The 24th annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, held July 23-25 on the campus of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon united wine collectors with winemakers once again for three days.
For the hugely popular vineyard tours, attendees, divided into smaller groups, were transported via buses to local vineyards for a lunch and wine-blending seminar with local winemakers and wine writers. Hosting wineries included Stoller Vineyards, Montinore Estate, Torii Mor Winery and Big Table Farm. As per tradition, each group’s specific destination was kept secret until everyone was boarded and ready to depart.
Ray Isle (Food & Wine Magazine’s Wine Editor), this year’s Master of Ceremonies, coordinated a wine-tasting and food-pairing workshop (“The Art of Pairing Pinot”) with Pinot Noir producers from California (Dutton-Goldfield), Oregon (St. Innocent Winery), Domaine de L’Arlot (France) and New Zealand (Pegasus bay. Each wine was paired with a lamb dish and the goal was to accentuate nuances in both the wine and the food. “Pinot Noir has a great balance of savory with the fruit,” said Isle. Lynnette Hudson, Pegasus Bay’s winemaker, agreed. “I think of my vineyards in terms of what I would eat with them,” she added. “There is this personality these different places take on and it reminds me of different food experiences I’ve had.”
Two alfresco tastings offered guests the opportunity to sip 70 Pinot Noirs from not just Oregon but France, California, Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada and Austria too. These selections were also poured at Friday night’s Grand Dinner as well as the Salmon Bake.
For the Grand Dinner chefs from top Portland restaurants like Le Pigeon, Pix Patisserie and Olympic Provisions got creative and prepared their favorite dishes with an artistic twist. At the Salmon Bake, local wild salmon—a traditional Pinot Noir pairing—was roasted on alder stakes over a custom-built fire pit. Bales of hay were arranged around a grassy lawn and music from a Portland swing-jazz band (The Stolen Sweets) filled the air.
A Sunday brunch featured sparkling Pinots paired up with oysters, sushi and salmon dishes prepared by top chefs in Portland. The wines were from domestic producers like R Stuart Brut Rose d’Or (Oregon) as well as Austria (Johanneshof Blanc de Noirs) and Canada (Henry of Pelham NV Brut Rose).
Later that day, the Passport to Pinot, a lower-priced condensed version of the IPNC, kicked off. This year the 3.5-hour event included a tasting of 70 Pinot Noirs served alongside dishes made by chefs in Oregon and Washington.