John Haeger and Pinot Noir

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Every fan of Pinot Noir will undoubtedly know the name of John Haeger.

As author of the highly acclaimed “North American Pinot Noir,” John literally wrote the book on the fascinating history and evolution of Burgundy’s illustrious grape variety here in the United States. John’s academic approach to both the research and the writing created an instant hit and a must-have treatise for most wine lovers. But, more than anything, it was destined to become THE book for domestic Pinot fanatics. Of course, its appearance at booksellers just months before release of the movie “Sideways” didn’t hurt sales either.

Now, four years later John Haeger has written another wine book, “Pacific Pinot Noir.” Since, as he notes, “96% of North America’s Pinot Noir comes from an area I call the Pacific Pinot Zone,” it was only natural for him to focus on an area extending from mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon to Santa Barbara in California and extending up to thirty miles inland.

Pinot Noir’s rise in popularity over the last several years owes much to the different personalities of the grape itself. Join us as we talk with author and lecturer John Haeger about Pinot Noir, and discover its unique place in the world of wine.

For more info on John Haeger: www.ucpress.edu

Sponsor: Bagged Wine: www.baggedwine.com

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Show #216
(48:56min 35MB)

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15 Responses to “John Haeger and Pinot Noir”


  1. 1 Riley Oct 14th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Great interview with John Haeger, I will certainly be looking for his book. I do however question the physical boundaries of the “Pacific Pinot Zone” and the characterization that it extends 30 miles inland. The vast majority of pinot noir vineyards in Oregon lie in the Willamette Valley. The valley and its foothills are at least 30 miles or more from the ocean for the majority of its length. McMinnville is one of the most westerly areas for growing pinot in the Willamette Valley and lies approximately 38 miles from the coast. A fraction (if any) pinot noir is grown within 30 miles of the ocean in the Willamette Valley.

    I really appreciate your show and the array of guests you interview. Keep up the good work!

  2. 2 Chris Oct 17th, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Great interview. I really enjoyed it. Toward the end, Eric said something to the effect finding good Pinot choices in the $13-$16 range. I’d be interested in some specific suggestions on that because I haven’t found one myself.

  3. 3 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 20th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Eric, give us the goods!

    Jay

  4. 4 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 20th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Hey Chris! Right off the bat I can think of two pretty good Pinots in that range: La Crema and Castle Rock Reserve.

    Eric

  5. 5 Chris Oct 21st, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Hi guys,

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen La Crema for less than $20 here in Ohio, but I did like the one I tried a couple years ago. I’ll have to try one again soon. I haven’t seen a reserve wine from Castle Rock.

    I was in the grocery store a couple days ago picking up some bread and milk. The path to those items (and all others) leads through the wine department, of course. I spotted a single bottle of a $9 pinot with the name “Baron Rothschild” prominently displayed on the label. Would he risk his name on a bad wine? The spot on the shelf was empty except for that one last bottle. People must be trying it and liking it, right?

    The temptation of finding the grail (a.k.a. a drinkable sub-$20 pinot) proved irresistable, despite my having told a coworker earlier that SAME DAY that I’ve never found one! I still haven’t :-). It was drinkable, but generic red wine that had no detectable pinot character.

    I’m looking forward to a couple cases of value selections from Siduri and Boedecker coming soon. I also like Patty Green and Navarro for good values and will doubtless order some from them when the offers come. I’m really limiting the over $30 bottles this year. The one exception I’ll probably make is for Loring, but at a lower quantity than last year. I met him at a local tasting this Summer and spent quite a while talking with him. He was very gracious and approachable, so he gets some bonus points :-).

    While I passing out compliments, take some for yourselves. You guys put on a terrific podcast time after time. THANK YOU!

    Chris

  6. 6 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 22nd, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Thanks, Chris, when wine is your material it’s easy to put on a great podcast.

    On the La Crema, their Sonoma Coast bottling is less ($16-17 at Costco and Winex) than their other bottlings. And the Castle Rock Reserve Sonoma PN is about $15. In addition, there is a Calera Central Coast bottling, and a few from Oregon like Benton lane and Ponzi – all under $20 from discount wine stores.

    Eric

  7. 7 Tim Meranda Oct 26th, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I’ve often said you guys are far too pinotcentric for the good of your show so it was very interesting to hear in this interview the observation that pinot lovers are, perhaps by design, snobs.

    You also made a very good point about the price point of a good Calif. Pinot being much more affordable then a good Napa cab. Unfortunately this is too true. I really wonder why this is true. Is their a pinot Screaming Eagle lurking somewhere out there?

    I did take you up on your recommendations of the Castle Rock Reserve and I have to tell you I agree 100%. This was a very enjoyable bottle of wine for a very fair price. I look forward to trying some of the others you and your guest recommended.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. 8 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 27th, 2008 at 8:00 am

    “Far too pinotcentric for the good of your show….” Awww Tim, it’s really not our fault – there’s just lots of Pinot stuff always going on.

    But, to your point, it’s interesting to philosophize about the current pricing difference in Pinot and Cab. My own theory is that Cab pricing began to take off with the Opus One venture, circa 1979-80. There had always been an [unfortunate, IMO] effort to create some familial link of Napa Cab-based wines with those of Bordeaux. Finally, Mondavi and Rothschild actually managed to pull it off with Opus One, and their product appeared at the meteoric price (at the time) of $50. (Mondavi himself used to compare/taste his wines with the great Bdx.) This was followed shortly thereafter by the Dominus joint venture, and by the mid-80s, a de-facto linkage existed. IMO, generally higher pricing then kicked in with the appearance of low-production cult wine producers, mailing lists, and the Wine Advocate. All of which was certainly encouraged by the ever increasing Bdx prices, and, in the usual effort to keep up with the “Joneses,” we were off and running.

    Pinot producers, OTOH, have actually fought hard to keep themselves separate from Burgundy, and in so doing have not mirrored Burgundian pricing – as yet. The current Pinot pricing, however, is creeping up there, so it remains to be seen how long this pricing disparity between “affordable” Cabs and Pinots will remain.

    For my palate, affordable Pinots taste better than their the equivalently-priced Cabs, which for me is tantamount to heresy.

    Eric

  9. 9 Mark A. Ryan Oct 28th, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Tim,

    Since the beginning of the year we have aired 56 shows. Only 14 are about Pinot Noir. That’s 25%.

    I encourage you to explore the archives. :-P

  10. 10 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 28th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Mark , based on all the other grapes out in the world, one could argue that Pinot gets the lions share of the attention.

    Jay

  11. 11 Mark A. Ryan Oct 28th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Jay,

    To the accusations that we are “Pinot-centric”, I would argue that the accuser is being “Grape Variety-centric” in his view of wine. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon will often hardly bear a resemblance to wine from the Médoc, same as Australian Chardonnay vs. Chablis, Central Coast Californian Pinot Noir vs. Chambolle-Musigny, etc.

    For quality wines, region will trump grape variety every time. That being said, we can often be a bit “California-centric” in our coverage. :)

  12. 12 Ian Blackburn Nov 17th, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I have been listening more and more frequently and wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your show and appreciate it. I learn so much and think your show is great!

    I had the pleasure of hosting John for a Pinot Noir event and a few days before this show at the A+D gallery in Los Angeles.

    Hosting a wine event is a little bit like throwing a dinner party – you are the last one to eat… I didn’t get a chance to spend any time with John or drink any wine. Listening to your show now gives me a much better appreciation for his talent and wisdom. I only wish I could have heard this show before my event, I would have stopped him for his autograph.

    Anyways – the book is really a good source of wine information about each brand and an excellent gift for those that want to be in the know.

  13. 13 lollipopholidaynews Nov 13th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Hosting a wine event is a little bit like throwing a dinner party you are the last one to eat I didnt get a chance to spend any time with John or drink any wine. Listening to your show now gives me a much better appreciation for his talent and wisdom. I only wish I could have heard this show before my event, I would have stopped him for his autograph.

  14. 14 moteldresses Nov 13th, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    very good point about the price point of a good Calif. Pinot being much more affordable then a good Napa cab. Unfortunately this is too true. I really wonder why this is true. Is their a pinot Screaming Eagle lurking somewhere

  1. 1 Writing the Book on American Pinot Noir pingback on Nov 4th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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