10 Feb Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival (aka “Passion 4 Pinot)
There is no other grape variety that gets as many events dedicated to itself as Pinot Noir. World of Pinot Noir has taken place in Santa Barbara since 2001. There used to be Pinot Fest in San Francisco and Pinot Days which took place around the country. And in Palm Springs, there is the Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival, aka Passion 4 Pinot, which I attended this past weekend. 80 Pinot Noir producers from California participated in a Grand Tasting. There were also seminars, of which I had the honor to moderate one, and wine dinners. As a lover of Pinot Noir, I love an event dedicated to the grape and the Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival, aka Passion 4 Pinot, is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
About Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival
The 4th Annual Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival, more popularly called Passion 4 Pinot, was established in 2020 by David and Lynn Fraschetti. Their goal is to celebrate everything Pinot Noir with top Pinot Noir producers and Pinot Noir lovers. The event took place at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa. In addition to tasting Pinot Noir, there was lots of food to taste and an online silent auction in which the proceeds go to Fresh Eddie Futures, which provides scholarships to students majoring in the fields of Enology and Viticulture.
Highlights of the Event
West Sonoma Coast AVA All-Star Tasting Panel Seminar
It was an honor to be invited to moderate The West Sonoma Coast AVA All-Star Tasting Panel seminar. And it really was an all-star panel, including Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards; Bob Cabral of Bob Cabral Wines; Ryan Prichard of Three Sticks Wines; Ross Cobb of Cobb Wines; and Jennifer Downing of Boar’s View. All five of these producers are based in, or source from vineyards in, the West Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County’s newest AVA.
The West Sonoma Coast AVA is located within the westernmost portion of Sonoma County and is the furthest western sliver of Sonoma County. The AVA comprises three sub-regions: Annapolis, the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, and Freestone-Occidental. The AVA encompasses the steep, rugged mountainous terrain along the Pacific Ocean coastline and the climate is cool, maritime. What influences the grapes is their proximity to the ocean and if they are grown above or below the inversion layer. The resulting wines have bright acidity and a purity of flavor.
The Grand Tasting
The Grand Tasting featured 80 Pinot Noir producers from across California. There were also local food purveyors. There were so many delicious Pinot Noirs to taste, as well as so many wonderful winemakers to see.
Chris Kajani of Bouchaine Vineyards in Carneros was pouring three clonal Pinot Noirs. The Calera Pinot Noir was drinking beautifully with beautiful red cherry and spice aromas and a broadness on the palate.
Shauna and Martin Mackenzie of Three Furies Wines in Napa were showcasing three Pinot Noirs and I loved the cherry, pomegranate, and violet notes of the 2019 The Angry One from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.
It’s always great to see Gray Hartley from Hitching Post Wines at Pinot Noir events and he was pouring the 2018 Perfect Set Pinot Noir which is made from the six best barrels. It was my first time trying this wine and it was juicy and delicious.
The talented Erica Stancliff was pouring three Pinot Noirs from Stressed Vines.
And the standout for me was the 2021 Stressed Vines Vineyard Select Reserve which was made in concrete. The result was a wine with incredible texture and mouthfeel.
Andy Peay was pouring his wines from the Peay Vineyards in the West Sonoma Coast AVA. The vineyard sits at 600 ft elevation and is 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The wines are velvety with fruit, floral, and earth aromas.
Darrin Low was pouring savory and elegant Pinot Noirs of Domaine Anderson Winery.
Bob and Heather Cabral poured Bob Cabral Wines and for me the 2018 Fillmore Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was a standout.
Ross Cobb poured a few Cobb Wines, including the Coastline Pinot Noir which had raspberry and forest floor aromas, silky tannins, and fresh acidity. Coastlands Vineyard, his estate vineyard, has some of the oldest plantings of Pinot Noir in Sonoma County.
Ryan Prichard was pouring Three Sticks and the two standouts for me were the Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir and the Walala Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Adam Lee and Moret Brealynn of Clarice Wine Company poured their juicy Busy Signal Pinot Noir made from fruit from the Sta. Rita Hills.
Yolanda Papapietro poured the Papapietro Perry 2020 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir which was complex and well-balanced with cherry, earth, tobacco, and mushroom notes.
And there were so many more delicious Pinot Noirs tasted throughout the event, including from Samsara, Mail Road, Saxon Brown, and more. I am already looking forward to returning for the 5th Annual Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival and recommend all Pinot Noir lovers to look forward to this weekend in Palm Springs next year.