Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Wild Wide World of WOPN

It's that most wonderful time of year, when the World of Pinot Noir, happily shortened to WOPN (it's fun to say--do it aloud!), sets up in Santa Barbara at the Bacara this Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2. Here's how they sell themselves: "The annual World of Pinot Noir event gathers the planet’s foremost Pinot Noir wineries and winemakers, renowned chefs, sommeliers and leading wine scholars in a weekend-long seaside celebration of this delicious and storied wine."

I was really hoping someone might pour some pinot from Jupiter this year, but in the meantime, the numerous Earth-made wines available at Friday's and Saturday's Grand Tastings will have to do, I guess. It's 100 producers Friday, 120 Saturday, almost all with multiple wines, sometimes even some not pinot-centric ("What is lurking under your table, dear pourer?" you may learn to ask). It's easy to end up feeling you pinot no more than you did when you started if you don't pace yourself. (And hydrate. And eat the food--there's always food. And bid on silent auction, or at least roam the tables. Or go out and stare at the Pacific and think, "What a lucky f---er I am to be here." The wine will be there when you get back.)

How do you have a good time there? Well, pretty much any way you'd like (but don't be a table hog). Having a plan doesn't hurt. It could be as simple as: only go to the table where no drinker is standing. You still won't go wrong. Or you could consider the two questions I suggested a few years back: 1) wide or deep? 2) what you know or what you don't know?

But there are all kinds of ways to dice up a pinot pie. Only try older vintages, for instance, as so many of the winemakers kindly like to share them, mostly as it shows they really know what they are doing (locally, Rick Longoria loves to please this way, for instance). Of course, if you don't taste the most recent vintage side-by-side, you're missing the chance to learn about wine aging and the differences in vintages, but there's only so much learning anyone can retain in an hours long tasting.

Only drink wines from places that begin with a C. Sure, this is totally random, but here's the list (note, some are Friday or Saturday only): Calera, Cambria, Cattleya, Center of Effort, Chalk Hill, Chalone, Chamisal, Chanin, Chanson, Chateau St. Jean, Chenoweth, Cherry Pie, Chicken Dance, CIRQ, Claiborne & Churchill, Clouds Rest, cnagy, Cobb, Colene Clemens, Copain, Cordant, Cristom, Croix, Crossbarn, Cuvaison. And I only made one of those up.

And keep looking to this blog for more about what's happening--I will have reports on the tastings, on the Savoy Vineyard/Anderson Valley seminar and the rosé by the sea lunch, too.

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