Wine Ink: The Pinot Posse rides again | PostIndependent.com

Wine Ink: The Pinot Posse rides again

Kelly J. Hayes
Wine Ink

"It's been an amazing ride," said John Salamanski of CS Wines, as he pointed to the past and the arc of the Pinot Posse he founded a dozen years ago. "We have seen births and passings, successes and challenges, a wine industry that has grown and changed dramatically, and still, this core group of producers, friends really, come back each year."

Salamanski was reflecting on the cadre of West Coast pinot noir producers whose wines he has distributed for the past 15 years, and who have come to the Rocky Mountains to ski a little, talk about pinot a lot and share their wines with pinot lovers in casual and intimate dinners. This year, Pinot Posse dinners will take place in Colorado from Jan. 14-18.

When Salamanski and his wife, Penny Devine, were starting CS Wines in the early 2000s, they needed a way to showcase the small-lot wines these makers were producing to diners and consumers in Colorado. "You have to remember that they were just dreamers when we were starting. They had worked as cellar rats in bigger facilities or had been to Europe to work harvests in Burgundy, and now they were buying fruit and making their own wines," said Salamanski. Thus the idea of bringing the group together as the Pinot Posse was born. "Now they are fully formed, mature winemakers who are really doing it."

The format of the dinners features a winemaker sitting at each table and then rotating amongst the diners during each of the four courses. This personalized and interactive format gives everyone a chance to get to know the winemakers.

And what a group of makers it is.

Moving south to north, the ever-gracious Jenne Lee Bonaccorsi will bring a wine made from fruit grown in Kathy Joseph's Sta. Rita Hills Fiddlesticks vineyard. A proponent of the region, which is famed for its east-west orientation that allows the cool influence of the Pacific to prevail, Bonaccorsi will pour the 2014 Bonaccorsi Pinot Noir Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills.

Recommended Stories For You

Deadheads and those who look for intense aromatics in their pinots will gravitate towards Ed Kurtzman's August West wines. August West's name comes from the "Wharf Rat" lyric, and the wine he will pour comes from fruit grown in the Graham's Family Vineyard in Green Valley of Sonoma County. You can't get much more back-to-the-garden than that.

Also from Green Valley will be a big but balanced pinot from Camlow Cellars, the 2014 Magna Porcum. Craig Strehlow produces this intense but elegant pinot noir from Alan Campbell's Big Pig Vineyard, and the wines and their label reflect that moniker. This may be the best wine on the planet to drink when picking at a pig roast.

New this year to the Posse event is a collaboration between Dan Kosta, the Kosta in Kosta Browne (their 2009 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast was Wine Spectator 2011 Wine of the Year), and New Orleans Chef Emeril Lagasse. The two, who became friends when Dan poured at Emeril's epic auction in New Orleans, the Carnivale du Vin, are making wine under the AldenAlli label. Kosta, who lost his home in the fires in Santa Rosa in November, will bring the wine from the Sonoma Coast to pour. Think he will have a story to tell?

From Oregon's Willamette Valley, pinot purist and acid king Jim Prosser will be flying in on the ample wings of his Vespidae. That is the name of the flagship wine he produces for his company, JK Carriere Wines, in Newburg, Oregon. "A train, a powerful locomotive delivering the goods" is how Prosser describes the 2014 Vespidae WV Pinot that he will be packing in his saddlebags.

And finally, as if that lineup were not enticing enough, one of my favorite winemakers and one of the most versatile producers of wine in the Northwest, David O'Reilly, will pour an Oregon pinot called "The Kilmore" that he produces for his Owen Roe label. Though O'Reilly makes his home in Washington's Yakima Valley, he drops below the border to make this wine in the Yamhill Carlton region of Oregon. "Ambidextrous" is how Salamanski describes O'Reilly's winemaking skills. He produces a ton of different varieties and yet remains true to the variety and the region.

See you there?

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at malibukj@aol.com.

IF YOU GO

Seating is limited and these events will sell out.

Pinot Posse Dinners

Jan. 14, Colorado Springs

Four by Brother Luck (719-434-2741)

Jan. 15, Denver

Table 6 (303-831-8800)

Jan. 16, Keystone

Ski Tip Lodge (800-354-4386)

Jan. 17, Basalt

Free Range Kitchen (970-279-5199)

Jan. 18, Steamboat (Clark)

The Home Ranch (970-879-4641)