Mini-Tastings – The Results Are In

The May Pinot Mini-Tasting was held at seven sites (members’ homes) across the county, with over 100 people enjoying 10 wines paired with dishes prepared by the attendees. The wines were served in five blind flights of two wines each and the attendees judged each wine and voted for their favorites.

The first flight was a pair of Pinot Blanc wines, one from Oregon and one from California. Pinot Blanc is not widely known but has been used as a white blending grape in France and Italy for many years. Pinot Noir is an unstable clone that occasionally produces white grapes (Pinot Blanc). The next four flights were all Pinot Noir, from different regions. Flight two featured a pair of Pinot Noir wines from Sta. Rita Hills.  The remaining three flights included Pinot Noirs from Oregon, Sonoma, Central California, Chile and France.

Pinot Noir is one of the wines where the “old world” style is noticeably different from the typical California style. The old-world style is typically less fruit-forward and more of a “food” wine.

The top four wines as rated by the attendees were an interesting mix, with one each from California, France, Oregon and Chile. The overall first place wine was in the top three at all seven sites, while the second place was in the top two spots at five of the sites. The wine from Chile finished fourth overall, but while it was chosen as the first, second or fourth place wine at three sites, two sites didn’t have a single guest place it in their top three.

The four favorite wines across the seven host sites:



Alma de Cattleya


Pinot Noir

Sonoma County, Ca


95 WE

(Wine Enthusiast)

2021 $34.00 Aromas of cinnamon, sumac and raspberry paste are juicy yet dark and serious on the nose. There’s a firm grip to the sip that frames the rich black raspberry core with flavors of thyme, sage and cracked pepper adding more nuance.
Editors’ Choice



Domaine Matrot Maranges la Fusslere


Pinot Noir

Premier Cru


Cote de Beaune,

Cote d’Or, Burgundy, France


90 RP

(Robert Parker)

2018 $42.99 The most southern appellation of the Côte de Beaune. The vines are planted on clay-limestone soil slopes facing southeast, giving a rich, full-bodied, and intense red wine. A blend of black fruits and spices, with soft and elegant tannins.

The 2018 Maranges Cru La Fussière wafts from the glass with aromas of cherries, raspberries and candied peel, followed by a medium to full-bodied, velvety palate with good depth at the core and refined tannins that assert themselves on the back end.


WillaKenzie Estate



Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley,



93 RP

(Robert Parker)

2019 $44.99 This expressive Pinot Noir offers notes of boysenberry, blackberry and red raspberry. Those flavors carry through to a juicy and intense palate that finishes with great vibrancy, purity and length.

Medium ruby color and scents of cranberries and orange peel with accents of potpourri, dried tobacco, shiitake mushroom and earth. The medium-bodied palate has an alluring, dusty texture, energetic bursts of acidity highlighting citrus and tea leaf character, and it closes with a very long finish.




Pinot Noir

Casablanca Valley,



95 RP

(Robert Parker)

2018 $40.99 This 100% bio-dynamic hand-harvested, single vineyard Pinot Noir is aged and fermented completely in concrete egg. Dark ripe cherry and black fruits jump out of the glass with underlying raspberry fruit notes. A condensed and dark spiraling mid-palate shows layers of minerality and complexity, with hints of wet crushed rock (granite), sage, clove and blueberry. Rich full fruit, mineral driven with a long, generous, smooth finish.

Chef of the Evening

In addition, attendees brought a delicious dish to share and then voted on a Chef of the Evening. The results of the Chef of the Evening at each host site are:

  • Hosts Chris & Hank Bruce

Scott Lewis – Smoked Ribs

  • Host Kim & Kristyn Grime

Cynthia Peterson – Turkey Southern Chile

  • Hosts Virginia & Karl Kawai

Dino Amico – Venetian Mac & Cheese

  • Hosts Betty Jo & Jay Newell

Irene Scott – Chicken Enchiladas

  • Hosts: Wendy & Stacey Taylor

Janet Riordan – Chocolate Pistachio Tart

  • Hosts Beverly Genis & Bob Topham

Shelly Cohen – Sweet & Sour Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs

  • Hosts Dave & Barb White

Deb Webber – First Lady Dip

Congratulations to all the winners!  A big thank you to the hosts!

George Cravens, OCWS Director