Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pinot Gris and Oregon

Pinot Gris (Grigio) is a vinifera grape that originated in Burgundy in the middle ages where it mutated from Pinot Noir, the most mutatable of grapes. A family of pinot grapes has actually resulted from mutations, all characterized by the tight cluster resembling a pinecone from which the pinot name comes. Pinot Gris grapes on the vine may even vary from cluster to cluster due to mutations.

Pinot Gris plantings spread eastward and southward from France through the centuries mutating and picking up new names along the way. Genetic testing has revealed a panoply of types bearing the same name, some of which really are of no relation to the actual Pinot Gris grape. It has found its most commercial success in Italy with its greatest expression in the northeastern region where it produces a light and lean, crisp and acidic, slightly "frizzante" white wine. Pinot Gris also does well in the Alsace where the wine is richer, floral, viscous, and less fruity. In Germany the wine is simpler and sweeter. Of these styles Oregon's most resembles the Alsation with the addition of characteristic new world forward fruit.

Pinot Gris is also a chameleon of sorts. On the vine the grape is usually grayish in color (gris) but can vary dramatically depending mainly on climate. In the bottle the wine can be yellowish to copper in color sometimes with a pinkish tinge. Any aging introduces a golden hue.

Oregon Pinot Gris has aromas and flavors of flowers, almonds and minerals in addition to the pear, apple, and melon fruit composition. It is crisp and clean, lively and forward, and exhibits grace and texture within its medium body. It is food friendly and usually priced under $20.

In 1966 David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards introduced Pinot Gris to Oregon after traveling extensively in Europe. The industry very quickly discovered that Oregon's cool autumns were ideal for ripening the grape following the warm summers. Moreover hillside growing at an elevation between 250-700 feet with a southern exposure further assured the quality of the fruit.

Currently we are offering the 2009 Elk Cove Vineyard Oregon Pinot Gris at the store. This Willamette Valley offering made the Wine Spectator's Top 100 list and retails regularly at $20. It is now $15/btl and $162/cs, perfect for the summer.

Cite this email for a 20% discount off a log of goat cheese to go with your Pinot Gris and don't forget to attend the Rich Bowman DFV tasting here on Saturday April 30th from 2-4pm.


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