Posted by: tomciocco | August 6, 2012

THIS VERSION OF A UBIQUITOUS WHITE NEEDS ANOTHER NAME

Its birthdate and birthplace is a looong time ago, likely behind the wall of some now long defunct Burgundian monastary, though its reputation was made in Alsace, and its great fame, in Italy. Which vine variety unties this little knot? In not one, but three names, Pinot Beurot (the once and present Burgundian handle), Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio.

All three of these Old World hotspots for this now world-famous variety has its ups and downs: P. Beurot is usually quite nice, but it’s as rare as hens’ teeth. Most good P. Gris costs too much, and most P. Grigio stinks. But literally on the other side of the world, in the cool, damp hills of Oregon, this grape  – and they’ve wisely chosen to nearly universally adopt the name “Pinot Gris” –  has made as happy a home as any in France or Italy, and I daresay that the future (and maybe even the present) in places like McMinnville or the Dundee Hills is brighter here than anywhere.

The great and rapid (though still relatively small-scale) success of Oregon Pinot Gris (which was first ever rooted anywhere in the soils of the New World in Dundee, Oregon in 1970) is one of the wine world’s true cases of  “the cover version besting the original song” phenomenon, like Argentine Malbec and Chilean Carmenere. The combination of a new and unique terroir that is still perfectly suited to Pinot Gris, combined with American passion and technology has in a short time cleared a new, world-class path in which to explore this grape, and that here yields wines that to me display a great purity with a deep, earthy/maritime underpinning…Open call for some new monikers…

I served this vivid and intense wine with a starter salad of shaved fennel and green apple with a lemon/olive oil/honey/mint dressing, and then my own take on an Alsatian-style braise of chicken with mushrooms, carrots, abbey ale, grainy mustard, and cream

Lumos Wine Company Rudolfo Vineyard Oregon Pinot Gris 2011

Pale, “white gold” color. Clean, pretty, and lightly aromatic nose of Anjou pear, quince, citron, wet stones, fresh white flowers, hay, fine, light caramel notes, and nori seaweed. In the mouth the wine is very lively and bright, with a piercingly fresh acidity that is perfectly balanced by a deep intensity, and a slighly viscous mouthfeel in which are suspended well-defined flavors of pulpy lime, bitter orange, and yellow cherry fruit, macadamia nuts, dried herbs, white chocolate, and pale tea. Long bittersweet quinine and gooseberry finish.

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