Sunday, July 18, 2010
The #PinotNoir twitter tasting is behind us. It took me 3 days to recover and gather my thoughts, purge my fingers of excessive hashtag residue, and wring out my liver.
First off: congratulations to the Willamette Valley, the 2010 Grand Champion. No question that the wines coming out of Oregon are spectacular, and the support garnered was no shock to this guy. To this end, all Oregon bloggers, wineries, supporters, etc. have earned the right to place this decidedly tacky, yet impressive medal of achievement on their sites. Link to it and download HERE, at the risk of your winery, your blog, or your wine-centric website losing all credibility from the "serious" wine aficionados. If this shows up on Matt Kramer's facebook page, then I know wine- as a whole- has jumped the shark.
In the wake of the whole event, after soaking in the experience of our live Atlanta event, watching the hyperactive Twitter feed like a scrolling marquee, and digesting Ed Thrall's analysis of the worldwide tasting, I've come to a few conclusions:
1) The whole "live event + tweeting" thing is cool, unless you're working at the event. Okay, I still had a lot of fun, but it was very difficult to interact with everyone to the level I wanted to on the Twitters while pouring wine for 80+ ravenous Pinotphiles. As one of the "hosts" of this worldwide Twitter tasting, I feel I should have engaged more people. Maybe I'm not good enough at multitasking. Homo sapiens has a large brain and 2 arms. The common octopus has a small brain and 8 arms. The ironing is delicious.
2) People love Pinot Noir and Social Media...to the tune of more than 300 unique participants and over 2000 tweets- in the span of two hours. These numbers exclude the probable hundreds of folks who participated in live events and did not tweet. I'm not much of an egghead, but Ed Thralls did a great job breaking everything down on his site.
3) The Kiwis are awesome. Despite the live event running from noon to 2 PM- on a workday- in New Zealand (some may call that "business time"), those krazy kiwis made a hard push and ended up 2nd in the standings, only behind Willamette Valley. Not bad for a country where sheep outnumber people. Oh, and they make some mighty fine Pinot as well. I really hope folks go out and seek the efforts from Marlborough, Martinborough, Nelson, Waipara/Canterbury, and especially Central Otago.
4) Price tag simply has to affect perception. By far, the top pick from paper votes at our live event was the 2008 Belle Glos Las Alturas SLH Pinot Noir. Coincidentally, it was also one of the most expensive. I know I'm probably as guilty as anyone to see the price and think, "well, this MUST be good," but I wonder if it would've been the "hands down" favorite if retail prices had not been on display. Personally, I thought there were better wines there for nearly half the price. Hmm. "Suburban Psychologist" blog pending...
5) There are still some diamonds in the rough. While Willamette, Los Carneros, Russian River, Burgundy, etc. dominated the volume of hashtags, I saw tweets for #RV (Rogue Valley, OR), #SA (South Africa), and #BC (British Columbia). I can't say what the "next big region" for Pinot Noir will be, but I look forward to digging into examples from non-traditional (at least from the American perspective) vineyard areas around the world.
6) Oregon bands together. I feel like Sonoma County could've taken this thing; there are great examples coming from the Sonoma Coast AVA and Russian River, among others. However, I suppose a fierce defense of terroir caused splintering of the clans. In fact, Green Valley- a sub-AVA of the Russian River AVA- supporters requested a separate hashtag. Willamette, on the other hand, stuck to one hashtag. Although individual ones were set up for McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, Ribbon Ridge, Eola-Amity Hills, and the Chehelam Mountains, the wily nor'westers stuck with a unified vote, and they ran away with it. Maybe there's a sense of unity that can only be fostered by those who made it through certain dysentery-related death on the Oregon Trail.
7) I'm giving Pinot Noir another shot. I'm a notorious skeptic of Pinot. I think Elizabeth from Wine for Normal People mirrors my thoughts better than me being repetitive. But after tasting some great juice in Willamette recently, along with several fine examples at the Atlanta tasting, I'll quit being such a curmudgeon and tuck in.