The terroir tasting party went well. We had 16 bottles of pinot, but only opened about eight. We had five French wines, three Canadian, four American, one Australian, one New Zealand, and one Chilean. I actually think our variety was a little too broad for us to identify what we were looking for. I also need to do more research before we do this again (and it's expensive!).
However, the night was not all lost. Our group had some very interesting observations. We noticed the difference the vintner made more than we could identify the difference the microclimate/microgeology. We had two bottles by the same vintner who seemed to be from different areas of Côte du Rhône. Both wines were substantially similar in flavor and color; there was not much difference.
We also noticed a distinct difference in the French aesthetic separate from the non-French aesthetic. French pinots were a bit fruitier than non-French wines. Non-French wines tended to be mineral-y and spicy. However, there was one American wine that clearly aimed for a French aesthetic; Mirassou was clearly fruitier than most non-French wines.
The primary lesson I learned is I need to find a more knowledgeable sommelier and attend more of the local wine-tasting seminars held at the specialty grocery and wine stores. I also need to spend more time with the pinot noirs; while they are not as full-bodied as my preferred merlots and shiraz, they titillate both the tongue and nose with their bouquet and subtle depth of flavor.