Patty's Pinot Closet Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 1
April, 2006
Circulation 11,137 Wineries, Retailers, and Wine Lovers

Undiscoverd Pinots

HP iPAQ showing Wine Notes

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Undiscovered Pinots

This newsletter takes a different format by addressing New Trends in the Wine Industry and covering three wine regions not known for their Pinot Noir.

New Trends in the Wine Industry

Satellites Unravel the Secrets of Wine Terroir According to Chris Mercer of Beverage Daily ~ Scientists from the European Space Agency are peering at satellite images of Italy´s Frascati wine region as part of project to use space technology to improve wine industry management.

Packaging I recently attended a presentation at COPIA in Napa by Danny Brager of A C Nielsen entitled “What´s Hot´ by the Numbers.” He presented hard numbers and future growth for wines in innovative packaging. I found the statistics very interesting and hope you do also.

  • Beer and Flavored Malt Beverages (FMB) sales volume have softened, in stark contrast to Wine/Spirits.
  • Consumers are “upscaling” across all 3 Beverage Alcohol categories (Table Wine, Spirits, and Beer/FMB).
  • New Zealand table wine imports have increased 100% in the past year. The Kiwi´s have a new advertising campaign entitled “Twist and Shout”. This, because so many of their wines have screw caps.
  • Pinot Noir has experienced a 48% increase in volume sales in the last year.
  • Of the 700+ new table wines introduced since 2003 nearly 12% have some kind of “critter” on the label. It´s believed that the kangaroo labeled Yellow Tail leads in America wine sales.
  • 14 “Critter” labels exist within the top 100 Table Wine brands.
  • More high-end wine is going into heavier glass bottles to reinforce consumer perception of luxury.
  • More mass-market premium wines are going into containers such as 3-liter boxes. Volume sales of wine in 3-liter boxes increased 42.5 percent through the end of September, compared with 7 percent growth for all table wine in conventional bottles in that period.
  • Premium Cask wines are attracting more affluent, educated, and younger consumers compared to the rest of the packaging categories.
  • In Sweden the Bag in Box sales account for 65% of their table wine sales.
  • More single-serving plastic and aluminum bottles to communicate approachability, fun and convenience. In the 187-milliliter, single-serving category, volume sales of wine in plastic bottles rose 16.3 percent for the survey year.
  • More high-end wine is going into screw capped bottles. Domaine des Baumard in Anjou, recently selected by Robert Parker as one of only three Loire producers to qualify for inclusion in his book “The World´s Greatest Wine Estates”, is the first top quality Loire producer to opt for screw caps.
  • More high-end wine is going into cans. Next year may be the year of the aluminum bottle.
Critter Wine

Box Wine 187 ML Wine Packaging
Bailey the Wine Dog

California Wine Sales in the United States hit another record in 2005, a rise experts attribute to a combination of factors from the Supreme Court weighing in on wine shipments to the vino-centric movie, Sideways, according to Michelle Locke, Associated Press Writer.

Wine Dogs First published in 2004, Wine Dogs of Australia pictures the multifarious four-legged characters that slouch and caper around practically every winery in Australia and New Zealand. As to what the dogs think of it is anybody´s guess, but they should appreciate Hooke's final thought in his foreword. “We all know the dog deserves the lion´s share of the credit. So, this is an attempt to right an injustice, to settle an old score and give winery dogs their day. Paws for thought.”

Chinese Wine Bottles of made-in-China wine will, for the first time in history, be available in duty-free stores at the world´s major airports.

Green-Toures Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards will offer Green-Tours in 2006 for hiking and wine enthusiasts to enhance public education and awareness of sustainable winegrowing practices. The tours climb 1400' up through the vineyards and into the Mayacamas Mountains, concluding with wine tasting and a gourmet lunch overlooking Sonoma Valley with fourth-generation winegrower, Jeff Kunde. Lasting approximately four hours, the hiking tours are $75.00 per person. 2006 dates are May 27th, July 8th , August 12th, September 23rd and October 15th. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. For more information visitors may call the Hospitality Department at 707-833-5501. The winery is also developing less strenuous eco-programs including self-guided tours of its creek restoration projects.

Quote-of-the-Year And last, this quote from Alan Scott of Alan Scott Wines in New Zealand, “I don't even drink beer out of a can, so why would I drink wine?”

Wine Festivals

International Wine Festivals

  • 29 January – 1 February 2007 –– Pinot Noir 2007, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 9-10 February 2007 ~ MPVA Pinot Noir Celebration 2007, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia.

US Wine Festivals

  • 22 April 2006 –– 12:00 - 1:00 pm ~ COPIA WineGuys´ Tasting of Artisan Wines Sit-down Winetasting. Join COPIA WineGuys Peter Marks MW and Burke Owens, as they taste six of their favorite new artisan wines. Be the first to discover these hot picks and discover why they´re “WineGuys Certified.” The perfect prelude to the afternoon walk-around tasting! Space is limited.
  • 22 April 2006 –– 1:00 - 4:00 pm ~ Taste of COPIA: Artisan Wineries Walk-Around Tasting, $45 (includes day pass)/$35 member. Second annual Artisan Winery Walk-Around—an unmatched opportunity to taste exceptional wines from boutique wineries that produce 5,000 or fewer cases a year. Taste the best, brightest and least-known fine wines from around the country as we bring these hidden gems to COPIA.
  • 29 April 2006 –– 3rd Annual Pinnacles Wine Festival, Inn at the Pinnacles, Soledad, CA
  • 19-21 May 2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, Events for wine lovers and professionals alike. Symposium, visits to vineyards and wineries, grand tasting, winemaker dinners. Some of America's most outstanding Pinot Noir vineyards in one of our most beautiful wine regions. Anderson Valley - Philo, California. Fee: Call for information Time: Call for information Phone Number: 707 895-9463
  • 23–24 June 2006 –– 2nd Annual Pinot Days Festival, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA
  • 28–30 July 2006 –– 20th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC), McMinnville, OR
  • 28–29 October 2006 — Pinot Festival "Pinot on the River", Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA
  • 11-12 November, 2006—¡Salud! Oregon’s Pinot Noir Auction, Oregon’s top Pinot Noir producers unite to provide much-needed healthcare outreach and services to seasonal vineyard workers and their families. This two-day event is a rare opportunity to preview the 2005 vintage, bid on unique Pinot Noirs created especially for ¡Salud!, and other exciting auction lots.
  • 2-3 March 2007 –– World of Pinot Noir, The Cliffs Resort, Shell Beach, CA,
  • March 2007 –– Passionate About Pinot Noir Summit, California Culinary Academy, San Francisco, CA
  • 24-25 March 2007 –– 3rd Annual Pinot Paradise, Santa Cruz Mountains,

Click Here for a complete list of Pinot Wine Festivals. If you have a Pinot festival you would like to add send a note to

Undiscovered Pinot Noirs

This newsletter covers three wine regions that are not known for their Pinot Noir. In each of these areas I found one Pinot Noir that I wanted to tell you about. They are Hamilton Russell from South Africa, Fattoria Mancini from Italy, and Boeger from the El Dorado AVA in California.

South Africa

South Africian Wine Growing Areas

Hamilton Russell Vineyards

South Africa´s vineyards are in the hinterland of the Cape of Good Hope. In the world they rank 20th in land planted in grape vines and 7th in wine production. Less than 20 percent of the grape growers actually produce wine. Recently they have started planting their cooler regions such as Constantia (granite and sandstone), Elgin (shale), Walker Bay (aerenaceous shale), and Ruiterbosch (decomposed granite). These areas are all located along the eastern seaboard and are cooled by the Benguela current from Antarctica. The South African soil requires heavy amendments to their extremely acid soil in order to grow wine grapes.

South Africa´s grape growing began in the mid 1600s with little success until 1688 when 200 French Protestant Huguenot refugees brought wine-making expertise. The Constantia dessert wines brought high prices in Europe until the late 1800s when Phylloxera struck. In the 1980s the quality of their wine began to grow when they started bringing in improved vine cuttings of classic varietals. The South Africans call their varietals Cultivars.

South African wine sales to the US grew by 59 per cent in 2004 compared to the previous year, according to the latest figures from Wines of South Africa (WOSA).

In 1925 Professor A. I. Perold at Stellenbosch University crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsaut to create Pinotage. In recent years South African winemakers have been using better viticulture techniques with Pinotage such as prolonged and cooler fermentations and oak aging. The results are very positive and the varietal was the largest grape variety planted in 1996.

Hamilton Russell Vineyards produces a lovely Pinot Noir that I like very much. They are located in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley of the Walker Bay region. They do not have a web site, but you can e-mail them at

Recommend: Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2004 Pinot Noir


Italians call Pinot Noir, Pinot Nero, but are being pressured to put Pinot Noir on wines coming into the US. They grow Pinot Nero in the north eastern part of Italy — Fruili, Trentino, Alto-Adige, Lombardy and Pesaro.

Alto Adige ~ Here they sometimes add Lagrein to the Pinot Nero to deepen the color and supply extra tannins and structure. Unlike in Burgundy, Pinot Nero prefers a south western aspect in this hotter region.

Friuli ~ Pinot Nero was planted in the 19th century in Friuli during the Habsburg dominination. After the Phylloxera destruction of the late 1800s, it was replanted.

Trentino ~ Pinot Nero grows in Civezzano and in the hills to the north of Trento. Here they are using barrell maturation and working to create high quality wines.

Pesaro ~ Fattoria Mancini. The French, under Napoleon, in the early 19th century planted Pinot Noir in several areas of Italy. Towards the end of that century, the Mancini family purchased one of these areas and became Pinot Nero vineyard owners. For five generations the family has carefully cultivated the original variety. Through this experience they have found the most suitable soils for propagating their Pinot Noir.

The hills of Roncaglia and Focara, with their siliceous-calcareous soil, in the Monte San Bartolo Natural Park, represent the ideal conditions for cultivating this difficult grape variety. Here the hills (with sheer drops down to the sea) are affected by significant temperature ranges for the entire period the grapes ripen. The cold summer nights along this stretch of coastline have been fundamental for the characteristics of this variety, which normally struggles to withstand the temperatures of Central Italy. The natural tendency of the Pinot Nero grape for spontaneous mutation, its centuries-old adaptation to the climate and soil of the Pesaro coast and its selection by man during two hundred years of local cultivation techniques have all led to a variety with unique and unmistakeable characteristics.

In recognition of the Pinot Nero variety grown in the Monte San Bartolo area, the Italians awarded the DOC Colli Pesaresi Focara Pinot Nero appellation in 2000. When the vintage permits they also produce a reserve wine.

Recommend: Fattoria Mancini 2001 Colli Pesaresi Focara Riserva

Simple Hors d´Oeuvre from Italy ~ Simmer dried figs in Pinot Noir until plumped. After draining, stuff each one with an almond and top with a strip of Prosciutto.

Italian Pinot Noir Regions

Luigi Mancini, Winemaker, Fattoria Mancini

New Vineyard Terraces at Fattoria Mancini.

Sierra Foothills Wine Region, CA

1872 Historic Homestead and Cellar at Boeger Winery

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park

Californian´s call this area “Gold Rush Country”. Thousands came to California after the 1849 discovery of gold. The vineyards date back almost that far. In 1870, El Dorado County was the third largest wine producer in the state, behind Los Angeles and Sonoma Counties.* Approximately 40 commercial wineries operated in the county in the late 1800s .

*The Wine Institute “A Brief History of Winegrowing in El Dorado County,” Eric J. Costa.

The Sierra Foothills AVA includes vineyards in Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. Amador and El Dorado counties contain the Shenandoah Valley-California AVA . The Fiddletown AVA is in Amador county. North Yuba AVA is in Yuba County.

The region primarily grows Zinfandel, but in El Dorado County where they grow their grapes at altitudes of 1200 to 3600 feet I found the Boeger Winery´s lovely Pinot Noir. It´s a lighter style with spice and mild tannins and goes well with food.

Recommend: Boeger 2002 El Dorado Pinot Noir

Murphys In Calaveras county you´ll find the city of Murphys ~ a quaint and charming gold rush-era town with many well-preserved historic buildings.

Vintner´s Holidays in the Sierras ~ Each November the beautiful Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park hosts their Vintners Holidays. This annual consumer wine series features 32 California wineries in eight sessions. Each session concludes with a five-course Gala Vintners´ Dinner in the elegant Ahwahnee Dining Room. The gourmet menu pairs wines of the participating wineries with a five-course dinner.

Map of California Counties showing the Sierra Foothills American Viticulture Area.

Subsequent Newsletters: The next newsletter covers Burgundy. To view the publication schedule for 2006 and 2007 Click Here.

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