04 September, 2009

2007 A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris


I love summer and the bounties of summer....well, I love living where it's not hot in Summer. No more than 70 degrees and I'm happy. Fog is good. On the other hand, stonefruit needs heat, and lots of it. There's not much better than a ripe white nectarine or peach that's been soaking up the sun and engaging in lots of photsynthesis. Mystical.

Wine grapes are also fully engaged in photosynthesis, even more so after Veraison. More incredible are the flavors of fruit that develop during fermentation. In this case, stonefruit.

Now, while it's not typically hot here in Half Moon Bay, It's frequently warm enough to mandate outdoor grilling and white wine. Just was the case when I decided to open this bottle of the 2007 A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris to pair with a spinach and goat cheese salad with grilled white nectarines and spicy shrimp. Sweeeeeet, well, not dessert wine sweet, nor even high residual sugar sweet, but fruit galore!

Grilled stonefruit is something to behold. Not much better than that with some baby spinach and almonds with Laura Chenel chevre.

So, let's deal with some confusion here before we go much further (or is that farther?). Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio. It's the same, but different, that is, the same grape varietal, but quite different in style and taste. That is, in Italy, and around the world, when winemakers craft Pinot Grigio, their aim, stylistically, is a lean, crisp, refreshing wine that's light in color. Conversly, Pinot Gris is crafted with a much more medium body, carries a richer color and consequently brings many more flavors and more character to the party. So, same grape varietal, with different grape clones, (different clones carry different local and regional characteristics) but a different goal as the final style produces a very different result.

So, now that we're straightened out Gris v Grigio, let's talk more about this bottle of wine.

The yellow gold tone is initially striking. It's rich and conveys a bit of both mystery and substance. The nose is quite dissimilar to the color, in acutality. Interestingly, it's quite forward with mineral and shale, with light citrus notes. The first taste presents an even more interesting treat to the palate in meyer lemon and zest. After leaving this to rest for several minutes things changed significantly.

The nose now brought the peach and pear notes and tasting now, especially with the grilled nectarines and shrimp was delightful. The stonefruit in the salad was ultimately enhanced by the stonefruit in the glass, and vice-versa. It's big, bold and rich in nectarines supported by peaches. Now, please don't worry that there's not enough acid to support the richness. There certainly is! A to Z Wineworks brought 16 lots of grapes from varying appellations and completely different parts of the state together for this. From the Willamette Valley, far cooler growing conditions to help with acid and from Southern Oregon near the Umpqua and Rogue Valleys, for richer, more developed fruit.

Now, I'm not one for tasting sheets by winemakers for anything other than technical information, typically, but in this case it's spot on when it they say "The length of the wine is spectacular...." It certainly is and that leads for a very pleasant wide and deep mouthfeel for a very crisp wine.

So, the next time it's warm and you're interested in something other than a burger or steak, please grill some stonefruit and perhaps pair it with this Pinot Gris that will complement and support chicken and fish on the grill. This wine is widely available both in grocery stores in states where wine is sold, as well as your LWS.

2007 A to Z Wineworks Oregon Pinot Gris
Retail: $13
Grade: B+

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