Monday, August 22, 2011

Foppiano 2006 Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Prevails at Pinot Smackdown 2011

Pinot Noir 005

The Pinot Smackdown is a Twitter wine tasting with a twist. Like a pay-for-view professional wresting match filled with costumed hulks, only one contender can leave the ring as champion.

Last Thursday the second annual Pinot Smackdown twitter tasting was held. This was an around the world event with “all the drama and suspense of an American Idol elimination round sending the audience on the edge of their seats to a commercial break…”

The TWAV team gathered for a late evening to taste three Pinot Noirs": 1. 2007 Ampelos Vineyards Lambda, Santa Rita Hills, CA; 2. 2006 Foppiano Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA: and, 3. 2007 Shaw Vineyards, Finger Lakes, NY. All wines were decanted prior to the tasting.

TWAV has just joined the “twittersphere” (click on the “follow” button at right to keep up with our tweets) so we had a live twitterfeed showing comments from tasters from around the globe. With each tweet, you were to include the hashtag for that winegrowing region (e.g., #CA or #OR). The winner of the smackdown was the region with the most hashtag “votes.”

The Ampelos has been a favorite since owners Rebecca and Peter Work poured their magical wines at a Toledo Museum of Art tasting. The Lambda was the first entry of the evening.

This is a heavenly Pinot with a delicate, balanced touch. Lambda has a vibrant red fruit palate and a round, warming finish. Green Dragon noted a touch of vanilla on the back-end. Somehow Jazz Man ended up with a moose in his pocket and this was tweeted out to everyone’s amusement.

I thought I may have made an error by firing our big gun at first, but I pulled a bottle of 2006 Foppiano banking on the winery’s long-standing reputation for quality. They have been producing wine since the 1800s.

The Foppiano was quite a surprise, coming out with a punchier flavor profile. This had a deeper, richer quality with full dark berry flavor from the start to the finish. The Russian River Valley is an AVA known for amazing wines and this one did not disappoint.

Our group of six tasters showed a remarkable thirst and we delved into our third bottle, a 2007 Shaw Vineyards Pinot Noir obtained on our last visit to the Finger Lakes. This was an enjoyable bottle, but it didn’t have the “big bones” of the Foppiano. It was a more delicate wine with sour cherry flavor notes. The finish was medium in length, but this was a wine that improved with time in the glass. Enjoyable, but several lengths behind the competitors from California.

The consensus winner from our tasting was… the 2006 Foppiano.

According to the official stats, worldwide there were 446,589 users, 5045 tweets, 1067 contributors, and 8.7million impressions. The official Pinot Smackdown winner was a surprise to me: New Zealand, followed close behind by Oregon and California. France grabbed only 3.1% of the votes.

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