Monday, April 11, 2011

Pinot Gris...not Grigio

Same grape. Maybe I've got a bridge to sell you too. They're the same, but so is the chicken I can get in fast food joints and the sublime delicacy Anne Kearney used to put on my plate at Peristyle. They're the same but they have nothing in common. Consume the former out of convenience, maybe because you have a taste for it. The latter makes me want to get into a car now so I could be in Dayton, Ohio and eating Anne's amazing chicken tomorrow night at Rue Dumaine. I'm salivating now just thinking about it. Okay, so no Pinot Gris ever made me want to leap into a car to drive 2,000 miles, but you get the point. Good Gris makes my mouth water too. Chehalem 3 Vineyard Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2009 - It comes from three estate vineyards on three different soil types and is vinified and aged in stainless steel. Amazing fullness in the mouth and intense, mouthwatering juiciness surprise when compared to the dry finish. Opulent fruit (ripe melons with plenty of acid) leads on the nose and continues on the palate. As the finish nears minerality kicks in, tingling the tastebuds and making mine come alive and crave seafood, especially crab and shrimp but it could handle heavier foods. Fried green tomatoes with a creamy shrimp remoulade seems to be a perfect match. The last direct impression is dryness, maybe a bit talcy even, and then a wave of juice re-emerges to wet, and whet, the palate again. $17-$19.

Elk Cove Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2009 - Despite my being a huge fan of this winery and having represented them for many years in the wholesale business, I rarely find this wine to my taste. They feature too much sweetness for my palate. Not so this year. I would drink the wine just about every year, but found it a simple quaff. Not quite a throwaway but also not worthy of much thought. Also stainless produced, this vintage has some of the same exotic, nearly sweet, fruit I expect but there it changes. Acidity more than balances out the thick, rich fruit and while it does not have the crunchy minerality of Chehalem I would love this wine with a seafood boil, some smoked salmon or just hanging out by the pool. $17-$19.

More on both wineries shortly...

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