The Great Pinot Showdown: Tuesday-Thursday this week.
In the fall of 2007, after bumming around the streets of Paris for nearly a month, I found myself on the seventh floor of a beautiful Haussmannian flat, watching The Great Dictator while drinking Grand Cru Pinot Noir. It was that evening that I first heard the phrase gout de terroir or “flavor of the soil” while discussing wine with my French friend. I’m not certain if I would have gone on to carry my French friend’s passion for terroir in the states if I didn’t find myself working amidst the same passion back in San Diego at Jaynes. After almost two years of living back in California it’s no longer a question. Whether it’s the image of Marseille evoked from the aroma of Bandol rose’ or the sight of the Tuscan countryside that I get when I drink Chianti, I love nothing more in wine than experiencing gout de terrior, the Marcel Proust like connectedness with the wines I drink and the regions they come from.
This week at Jaynes, Tuesday through Thursday, our wine flight features three classic examples of terroir driven Pinot Noir from Oregon, Napa and Burgundy. Whether it’s the Grand Cru status of Shea Wine Cellars, the militant organic farming of Robert Sinskey, or the hand picked grapes of Bachey-Legros, the traditional winemaking of each of these producers provides three different examples of Pinot Noir that reflect the distinct soil characteristics of the regions they have been grown in. Poured side by side we look forward to seeing how the regions of Oregon, Carneros, and Burgundy exemplify the different characteristics of Pinot Noir.
Dick and Deirdre Shea founded Shea Wine Cellars in 1996 and currently produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made from fruit grown entirely on-site at Shea Vineyard. Shea Vineyard was first planted in 1989 and is currently produced by winemaker Drew Volt. The 200-acre vineyard property lies at the heart of Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton District. Named one of only Five Vineyards in the U.S. to receive the distinction as Grand Cru, the region is noted for its sedimentary soil that sits over fractured limestone. It not often I feel the need to mention the soil content of a west coast wine, but this is one of the special few that possesses the ability to reflect the region where the fruit was grown.
There’s much to say about Robert Sinskey and his wine making, but all I want to say is that it makes me feel good. Everything from the beginning production to the last sip of Robert Sinskey’s Pinot Noir makes me feel good. Robert Sinskey converted the vineyards to organics beginning in 1991. When describing his passionate pursuit of biodynamic wine practice he simply states, “We’re dirt farmers.”
Christiane Bachey has guided the domaine her great-grandparents founded since 1993. However, in recent years her two sons Lénaïc and Samuel have assumed stewardship of Bachey-Legros. Bachey-Legros’ primary vineyard holdings lie in both Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet, in the burgundy region of France. There is no organic gimmick to the production of wine at Bachey-Legros. They still continue the wonderful tradition of making wine the way it has been done in France for hundreds of years. The vines are tended by hand and workers manually plough the stony, mineral-rich soils rather than using chemicals, making the balanced, elegant, and youthful 2006 Bachey-Legros Bourgogne, a great example of classic Burgundy terroir.
Our recommended Pinot pairing is this week’s special: Wild Marbled Pacific Salmon from Washington State, served over a delicious sautéed medley of spinach, chopped smoked bacon, sliced baby carrots, English peas, white corn, caramelized pearl onions, and shitake mushrooms, then finished in a tarragon vinaigrette.
We hope to see you this week at Jaynes. Stop in, say hello, and tell us about your weekend. We’d love to hear about it in great detail. My advice is to come early, enjoy some fantastic wine and a nice meal, then go see The Hangover, it’s absolutely hilarious.