Sunday, February 28, 2016

Clarissa Explains Pinot Noir to You

Some winemakers would no doubt be happy being featured at World of Pinot Noir once. But then again, most winemakers aren't Clarissa Nagy, who will be at the event three times (pouring sparkling at The Terroirists – from Bubbles to Burgundy on Friday in addition to pouring at both main tastings), representing both her own label cnagy and Riverbench, where she is winemaker.

Nagy modestly puts it this way, "My goal as a winemaker is to capture the essence of each vineyard or block. I want those enjoying my wines to experience the character and flavors that I taste while walking through the vineyard at harvest in the finished bottle of wine."

Indeed, she is one of the champions of the Santa Maria Valley, in both meanings of the word. "Our transverse mountain ranges draw in the ocean breezes and marine layer, which helps maintain our bright acids," she explains about what makes this region special. "The sandy soils and fossilized oyster shells lend to mineral, floral and brown, Chinese 5 spice notes."

If you want to taste her elegant wines, here's what will be available. "At the sparkling seminar, I'll be pouring the Riverbench Blanc de Noirs and Brut Rosé," she begins. "I'll be pouring the Riverbench Estate and Mesa Pinot Noir at the Focus Tasting on Friday. They are our flagship wines and are a great representation of Santa Maria Valley. At the Grand Tasting on Saturday, I'll be pouring cnagy Garey Ranch Pinot Noir. I chose it because it exhibits the floral and spice notes so prominent in Santa Maria Valley."

It's not surprising her palate is so refined as she studied Food Science at Cal Poly before ending up in winemaking. It certainly helps her provide some perspective. "Pinot Noir continues to gather momentum," she says. "Wine lovers at events regularly share with me about their love of Pinot Noir. It still surprises me at the number of wine drinkers who are just discovering Pinot Noir. A whole new world has just been opened to them."

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