Friday, September 4, 2009

Fire and Pinot is reporting that “investigators probing a huge wildfire that began at a vineyard owned by Constellation Wines believe a firework used to scare birds may have started the blaze.” It’s wildfire season in California, and, as always, the news is peppered almost daily with tales of acre upon ruined acre dotting the landscape. And, also as always, it is affecting the local wine industry, as well.

The story continued: “Nearly 6,500 acres…of grassland in an area northeast of Soledad were destroyed in the blaze, which started on 27 August and was finally put out on Monday evening.” More details will be posted here as they emerge.

Also this week, The New York Times ran a wine column and tasting-panel report on the Pinot Noirs of Oregon and, contrary to what usually appears in the press, it wasn’t all that exuberant.

“I will say,” wrote Eric Asimov, “that this was one of our more difficult tastings. While we liked many of the wines, very few grabbed and held our attention.

The wines that seemed most balanced and freshest lacked complexity, while those with more going on in the glass occasionally seemed clumsy or unfocused. The difficulty in finding wines that put it all together kept our scores relatively low."

He goes on to describe the differences between the vintages in general (2006 and 2007) and the wines tasted for the article in particular, but his conclusion is not as positive as I would have expected. I’d be interested to hear about readers’ personal experiences with Oregon Pinot Noir in the comments section here. Personally, I’m a big believer in them, and wines at all price points, from Torii Mor to Bergstrom to Antica Terra have given me as much—and often more—wine-drinking pleasure as anything else in recent years.

And speaking of great Oregon Pinot, click here for an excellent interview on Grape Radio with rising star Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra and cult Syrah Lillian. Her story is a fascinating one, and speaks not only to her own history, but also to the future of American winemaking.


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