Taste, Talk and Tweet: Pinot Noir

If you happened to be on Twitter Thursday night you may have noticed an unusually high number of people tweeting about Pinot Noir.

It wasn’t just a coincidence (though I’m sure coincidentally it made you thirsty).  It was a planned “tweet up” several weeks in the making, a unique fusion of social drinking and social media that brought together Pinot Noir fans from around the world.

Participating in this tasting was easy — just pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir and tweet about it, making sure to include the hashtag #pinotnoir (for Twitter newbies this is a way to group together tweets with a common topic).  You could even add on additional hashtags for the wine’s region such as #WV for Willamette Valley, #RR for Russian River Valley or #NZ for New Zealand.

I joined around 80 Atlanta Pinot Noir fans for a special tasting for the tweet up.  Held at Paul’s Restaurant in Buckhead and hosted by Ed Thralls (@winetonight), Joe Herrig (@suburbanwino) and Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson (@andreawine), the tasting featured 12 different Pinot Noirs from 10 regions.  Tower Beer, Wine & Spirits (@TowerATL) helped organize and promote the event.

Around the room were television monitors showing Pinot Noir tweets from our tasting and others in real time.  Guests could sip a wine, tweet their thoughts, then moments later see their tweet on the screen.

As wine descriptions tend to be long and flowery with run-on sentences about fruit and spice, it was fun trying to write about a wine in 140 characters or less.

I began the tasting with the 2008 Belle Glos Las Alturas from Santa Lucia Highlands ($40).  Here’s what I tweeted:

This wine had all the flavors I love in my Pinot Noir.  It was dark burgundy in color and slightly cloudy, with richly textured layers of black cherry, plum, spice and smoke flavors.  I couldn’t have kicked off the tasting with a more satisfying first sip; this wine ended up being my favorite of the entire tasting.

After my tweet appeared on the monitor it was neat to watch other people’s tweets about the wine, and even spotted a couple of responses to my comments on Belle Glos.

From there I tasted two Pinots from Hahn: the 2007 Hahn Estates Monterrey and the 2006 Hahn Santa Lucia Highlands.  The tasting’s best value at $9, the Monterrey was fortunately lacking in cherry candy sweetness that can make inexpensive Pinot Noirs a not so tasty gamble.  Elegant red fruit was balanced out by black pepper and spice, with good acidity giving it a light and bouncy feeling in the mouth.  Costing about $20 more, the Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot was noticeably more complex, with nice layers of black cherry, boysenberry and a hint of caramel.

Next I chatted with Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson who was pouring a Simonnet Febvre Cremant de Bourgogne NV ($17).  This sparkling wine from Burgundy was pale salmon-pink in color with delicate and creamy flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries.

In addition to being one of 16 female Master Sommeliers in the world, Andrea has designed a line of stemware called “The One” that was used at the tasting.  With one style for white wines and another for red, the glasses are meant to be the only two glasses you need to enjoy wines at home.  The glasses are made from lead-free crystal and are dishwasher safe.  They are available at Macy’s or online at www.andreawine.com.

Other standout wines from the tasting were the 2008 Laetitia Estate Arroyo Grande Valley ($25) and the 2007 Halleck Vineyards “3 Sons Cuvee” ($40) from the Russian River Valley.  The Laetitia Estate had spicy flavors of cherry cola, plum, pomegranate and sandalwood, with crisp acidity.  The Halleck Vineyards had silky dark red fruit flavors with a hint of oak and a satisfying finish.

One wine stood out because of its unusual name.  The 2008 Mud House Pinot Noir ($20) from Central Otago was the tasting’s only New Zealand wine.  For a wine with the word mud in its name it was surprisingly light and elegant, with ripe cherry and berry flavors rounded out with crushed herbs.

During the online tasting wine fans tweeted more than 2,000 messages about Pinot Noir.

I couldn’t resist getting another taste of the Belle Glos as my last wine of the evening, which I sipped as I sent out my last tweet:

You can follow me on Twitter at @amgastronomer.

All prices approximate