There are public wine tasting events, and then there are public wine tasting events. Many consist of massive mob scenes where hundreds of wines get poured by hundreds of winemakers to thousands of attendees. There’s nothing wrong with such events. Indeed, I regularly encourage my readers to attend these massive tastings for the singular reason that they represent an incredible opportunity to educate one’s palate and discover new favorite wines.
But on the other hand, there exists another kind of wine tasting event. One that offers, shall we say, a more curated view of the wine world, with higher quality wines poured for a smaller group of tasters.
In Pursuit of Balance has now entered its fourth of existence, and by now has established itself as one of the highest quality wine tastings available to the public in San Francisco and New York. This, of course, is my personal opinion, but I can’t recommend the tasting highly enough for anyone who enjoys California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in a more old-world style.
The last few words of the above paragraph remain the reason that this tasting continues to provoke a certain amount of controversy and, if truth be told, rancor. The organizers originally conceived it as an intimate tasting where they could showcase the wines they loved — those being united by what they believed was a dedication to “balance.” The initial event ended up mobbed by the trade and public, and so what began as a little experiment has become one of the hottest tickets in the California wine scene. But not everyone can pour their wines at this event, and not everyone agrees with the definition of “balance” implied by the wines at the tasting, or the opinions on the subject offered by the organizers. The use of the word balance (a good one in my opinion) to describe the qualities that unite those wines selected for the tasting has the unfortunate side effect of implying a lack of balance in those wines not in attendance.
I don’t see a particular way around this problem, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t annoyed some in the industry, who see the event as polarizing and clique-ish. Be that as it may, the tasting offers an opportunity to taste some incredibly stellar wines, many of which, I have to say, are among my favorites in California.
To put a finer point on it, I don’t really know of many wine tasting events out there where the quality of wines across the board is higher than this one. Again, one man’s opinion, but there you have it.
Thirty-one wineries, selected by the organizers, pour Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the two varieties most historically in need of a “balance correction” according to the organizers) this year in three cities in the US (New York, San Francisco, and Houston) and for the first time in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.
If you can make it to one of them, I highly recommend it.
In Pursuit of Balance 2015
February 23 – New York
March 16 – San Francisco
March 30 – Houston
April 14 – Osaka, Japan
April 16 – Tokyo, Japan
For timing and venues, please see the In Pursuit of Balance web site.
Tickets for the tasting run $125 per person and will likely sell out, so get yours online soon.