A Worldly Celebration of Pinot Noir
By W. Peter Hoyne
There are few destinations in the world where you can fully immerse yourself in the culture and community of finely crafted Pinot Noir. In the United States this sweet spot is Willamette Valley, Oregon. On July 26-28 the 33rd International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) commenced in the heart of Willamette Valley on the Linfield College campus in McMinnville, Oregon. A yearly pilgrimage for Pinot Noir enthusiasts, the 2019 IPNC attracted 830 participants along with many of the most well respected winemakers and pioneers of Pinot Noir in the world.Since its inception in 1987, IPNC has attracted over 17,535 wine enthusiasts to this acclaimed wine-growing region. Seventy-eight featured wineries representing Burgundy, Austria, Alsace, Champagne, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Chile along with Oregon and California, participated in this three-day venue.
The master of ceremonies for this year’s forum was Decanter Magazine’s consulting editor and wine writer Steven Spurrier, who is well-versed in the foundation of the wines from Burgundy, France.
In his opening comments Spurrier professed, “the point of Pinot Noir is to have a sense of place and Oregon wines have a definitive sense of place.” His comments resonated among this year’s gathering of devoted followers of Pinot Noir. Among the discussions and tastings at the University of Pinot Noir were in-depth discussions on the pairing of Pinot Noir with food. In some instances, the effects of global climate change have increased alcohol levels in Pinot Noir with a corresponding amount of ripe, dense fruit, making them more challenging wines for food pairings. There were sensory evaluations of Pinot Noir from Chile, Germany and Santa Rita Hills in California. Owners dissected the unique characteristics and subtleties of Pinot Noir grown in their country.
This year’s Grand Seminar focused on what is referred to as Burgundy’s 3rd Côte, Côte Chalonnaise. The wines from this Côte can resemble the acclaimed wines of Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, but at friendlier price points. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown here originate from the villages of Rully, Mercurey and Givry.