2008 BearBoat Pinot Gris

2008 BearBoat Pinot GrisPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per BearBoat Wines “Bearboat Pinot Gris, made from 100% Pinot Gris grapes, has aromas of apricots, nectarines and a perfumed spice. The wine is fairly full-bodied with balanced acidity and oily texture. The finish is clean with good length and extract. Pinot Gris grapes come from cool climate areas – 30% from Russian River, 30% from Sonoma Coast and 40% from Carneros. All these 3 growing areas in Sonoma allow the Pinot Gris to retain pronounced aromatics and fresh acidity. 60% of the wine is fermented in stainless steel to retain nectarine fruit aromas. The rest is fermented in new French oak for added complexity. A half of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation for acidity balance. It’s aged for five months in 40% new French oak for added complexity.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) I really wanted to like this one I did. But I don’t. Seems like he has a decent enough pedigree as K&L Wines was selling the 2007 vintage for $14 but I just don’t get it here. Ripe nectarine and stone fruits on the nose. On the palate this is medium bodied, rich apples, oily & spiced, lemon acidity but the black licorice on the edges distracts throughout never allowing this to come together. Perhaps better with food (I tried it on its own) but I’m not likely to give it another chance…

By the way 2008 seems a little late for this simple offering to be hitting the market; wonder what gives?

Wine Geek Notes: Part of the Rémy Cointreau portfolio

Rating: Skip It

2010 King Estate Pinot Gris

My drinking local series from my family’s summer vacation is winding down as I am now back to work and the kids in school. That said, we saved the best for last. King Estate was founded in 1991 and has 1.000+ acres of organic estate fruit they tend to making Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They are often credited for helping Pinot Gris achieve the recognition it has today. Given that I was keen to see what they could do to my impression of Oregon’s work with the grape…

Price: $13.99

What They Said:

2010 King Estate Pinot GrisPer King Estate (pdf) “Appearance: Light straw with emeral green hue
Aroma: Green apple, citrus, honeysuckle, white peach, apricot, and floral notes
Flavor: Pear, melon, lemon and lime, wet stone, kiwi, honey
Mouthfeel: Soft rich entry, nice texture, good weight, long lively crisp finish”

What I Think:

(13%) Bright tangerine and lime fruit with nice mineral and acidity (with a bit of pepper spice) on the back of the palate. Nice mouth feel; crisp and refreshing with a lively finish with tart green apple and lingering citrus fruit. None of the flabbiness I typically get on your average Oregon Pinot Gris and much more restrained (or is it just “less rich”) as well. At $13 this is money well spent. A nice wine at a reasonable price; replacing the Elk Cove Pinot Gris as the best I’ve had (and my new benchmark) to date from Oregon. I’ll buy again.

Wine Geek Notes: 82,500 cases made, fermented in 100% stainless steel

Rating: Buy It

How about you? Any favorite Pinot Gris from Oregon to share?

2009 Elk Cove Pinot Gris

And my Oregon summer vacation drinking local series rolls on. Next up a few I picked up at the Whole Foods in Bend. Again I went for the one-two Pinot punch of Gris and Noir. First up this Gris from Elk Cove which has been making wine in the Willamette Valley since 1974…

Price: $15.99 @ Whole Foods

What They Said:

2009 Elk Cove Pinot GrisPer Elk Cove Vineyards “The 2009 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Gris starts out with sweet and unctuous aromatics while showing crispness on the palate with citrus and grapefruit. True to Elk Cove Vineyards’ style, a rich mouthfeel leads to a full and satisfying balanced finish. Drink this lovely white wine as an aperitif or with a variety of food pairings from salmon and main-course salads to Asian and Thai influenced dishes.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) Big honeyed, pollinated floral nose. This one is rich, juicy and fruit forward on the palate loaded with peaches and some pear/cantaloupe notes on the edges before a mineral acidity emerges on the backbone leading to a crisp, lingering mineral rock finish with touches of citrus. Best Pinot Gris I’ve had to date but I’d still recommend pairing this one with food. The Thai recommended by the winery seems like a good place to start.

Wine Geek Notes: 18,430 cases produced, under screwtop (which I prefer)

Rating: Good but… (while I consider this the best Pinot Gris I’ve had I’m finding this varietal from Oregon, versus the Alsace, doesn’t deliver the acidity I prefer in my whites)

2009 Eola Hills Pinot Gris

2009 Eola Hills Pinot Gris

As mentioned I’m in Oregon on summer vacation making lemonade out of lemons (was supposed to be in the Dolomites) and am drinking local. That means digging into Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Given my inclination for value I had to have a peek when we hit the Trader Joe’s in Bend for groceries. They had a nice selection of local wines with about 10 of each Pinots. Far more than we see in California so I decided to grab one of each. First up was the Pinot Gris…

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Eola Hills “Apples, Apples, and more apples – this is what comes to mind on the first sip. A little spritz on the finish. This Pinot Gris was made exclusively from grapes grown in the Willamette Valley. Aged only in stainless steel to allow the fruit flavors to come forward. Similar in style to the Pinot Grigio’s from Italy.”

What I Think:

First off unlike much of the Oregon wine we see at Trader Joe’s in California Eola Hills is a real winery, not just a label, located about ten miles outside of Salem. Started in 1987 the winery makes a wide variety of offering from Cabernet Sauvignon to Viognier to Zinfandel. Not many that Oregon is renowned for. That said Pinot Gris (and Noir) is one in their portfolio for which they are well known so let’s get to it.

(12.6%) Pale, yellowish gold in the glass. Big, crisp and forward on entry with juicy green apples and ripe peach flavors which quickly give way to a mineral, talc backbone. From there the finish turns creamy showing a bit of spice as it lingers on. Again this one seems a bit flabby as I would prefer more acidity but it does seem fairly priced at $9.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2009 Erath Pinot Gris

I’m in Oregon for a few weeks on vacation and outside of the six pack I brought with me will be sampling what I can of the local wines. I’ll be spending the majority of my time in Bend and sadly won’t make it to Willamette though am hoping to stop in one of the southern wine regions on my way back home. Let me know if you have any favorites from Oregon I should be on the lookout for…

Price: $10.99 @ Safeway

What They Said:

2009 Erath Pinot GrisPer Erath Winery “Fragranced with mandarin orange, ripe pear, subtle talc and lavender notes, the 2009 Pinot Gris promises plenty. The promise is fulfilled when the silky texture and uplifting acidity come together with flavors reminiscent of melon, citrus, apple and honey. Classically Erath.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) Pale gold with a honeyed floral blossom nose. Crisp on entry with rich, peach stone fruits that lead to a dry, mineral finish. A bit flabby (could use a touch more acidity for my liking) but nice enough if you aren’t paying too close of attention…

Rating: Pricey

2009 VINTJS Pinot Gris

2009 VINTJS Pinot GrisPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, from Oregon’s most renowned growing region, is a silky & vibrant wine, more full-bodied and lush than its cousin, Pinot Grigio. The Willamette Valley’s long, cool growing season challenges the grapes to ripen, which results in much more complexity of flavor and body than often found in wines from warmer regions. Bright flavors of pineapple, green apple & pear make this a good partner to a salad of Organic Baby Lettuce topped with our Goat Cheese Medallions. Our price of $5.99 makes this a great partner to your sense of frugality, too.”

What I Think:

Another in the series of VINTJS offerings I found this on page 8 of my most recent Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. I really wanted to like this one as it has been a while since I enjoyed a Pinot Gris. How did this one work out? Straw hued with a slight spritz on the pour (not the palate though) and a nose showing tart citrus, mineral and rock aromas. Green apples greet you on the palate before a mineral backbone kicks in leading to a crisp finish. Enough acid but I prefer a bit more snap (and truth be told a bit more fruit as well). This wine is well made but not a standout. You get what you pay for; a simple, solid sipper. I bought two bottles initially but don’t see this one making it into my cart again. That said guessing some might like this more than I do. If you are a Pinot Gris fan feel free to give this one a try.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2008 Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio

2008 Italo Cescon Pinot GrigioPrice: $14.99 @ Vintage Wine & Spirits imported by Bacco Wine & Spirit

What They Said:

Per Italo Cescon “A deep yellow, straw-like color. Intense aroma with slight hints of nutmeg, peach, and acacia. A dry, fresh wine with strong, fruity overtones and orange peel. It has a rich, persistent flavor. Is best served with seafood dishes.”

What I Think:

After a haircut I was wandering around town and the magnet drew me into the local wine shop. Given that I hadn’t come in for anything in particular I asked the folks there to share their favorites under $20 with me. This is one of those they identified as being a staff favorite, so even though a bit pricey for me, I decided to give it a go. This one is light in color and shows some bubbles in the glass. On the nose I get mostly floral aromas with hints of lemon. The front of the palate is crisp and clean with stony white fruit flavors appearing towards the middle. From there the zingy acid and mineral component come to the fore leading into a finish that shows notes of nutmeg. This is a pleasant wine for sipping on a warm afternoon.

As I was writing this post I came to a realization that while I find most Pinot Grigio’s from Italy very agreeable they rarely capture my full attention. As I followed this thought a bit further I was reminded of memories of fantastic Pinot Blanc’s I’ve had from the Alsace (disclaimer: As long time readers know I have a soft spot for the region). Once upon a time, Trader Joe’s had a fantastic Marcel Hugg offering from the region which I enjoyed immensely. I’ll have to grab another offering from the area soon. Let me know if anyone has any recommendations.

Rating: Pricey

2004 La Famiglia California Pinot Grigio

Price: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “I’m incredibly proud of this 2004 Pinot Grigio,” said Proprietor Steve Cousins. “The back bone of this blend is fruit from ultra premium vineyards in Monterey and Santa Barbara counties including vineyards in Arroyo Seco, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Maria. Our 2004 Pinot Grigio is Italian in style with abundant California ripe fruit expression. It has classic Italian mineral character, which I attribute to the river rock and gravel soils of the vineyards around Arroyo Seco in Monterey County.” This vintage of Pinot Grigio has excellent weight and complexity on the palate, with generous fruit character – apple, citrus and lemon zest – woven with mineral, floral and spice nuances. The crisp, dry flavors culminate with a burst of tangerine in the finish and the Tocai Friulano and Chardonnay in the blend bring body and elegance to the texture. This wine begs to be paired with oysters or sushi.

What I Think:

Pinot Grigio from California for $2.99 it seems liked it was worth a try, you with me so far? Knowing that La Famiglia was a former Mondavi brand I figure it was worth a go. Getting it home a little research showed me that the blend was as follows: 87% Pinot Grigio, 10% Chardonnay, 3% Tocai Friulano and I found a Monterrey only bottling on the winery web site priced at $15. Expectations were being tempted; drink it now so I can get more? It was a thought but it faded quickly and I only recently pulled it from the back of the rack.

My notes as of always recently were less than extensive but in a nutshell I am glad I didn’t hurry on this one. Nothing seems to shine through; it seemed to taste mostly like nothing. You could at times feel stones or minerals and at others light fruit and floral notes but it never resulted in anything. I tried to think it was more like a Sauvignon Blanc but couldn’t get that to work. Not knowing what else to try I gave up. Even at this price I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, not when you can get a much nicer Italian version such as this 2006 Gaetano DAquino for a dollar more.

Rating: Skip It

2002 Navarro Anderson Valley Pinot Gris

Price: $12.60 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery Refreshingly vibrant, with lovely floral aromas of creamy nectarine, with a touch of fresh grain and fennel. Crisp, dry and intense, with pear and orange fruit and a finish that fans out. – Wine Spectator, May 15, 2004.

What I Think:

Had this one nearly a month ago when friends came over for dinner. As I was in charge of cooking I missed the majority of this wine as it was served with snacks/appetizers. That said, I put my friend Paul in charge of writing this one up. Here is what he had to say:

Light nose, hint of lychee (his favorite descriptor by the way)
Strong citrus with sharp lemon on the start
Fade reveals hint of strawberry lingering longer than a typical white.

What I didn’t get him to do was rate and score it. That said I’ll repeat my rating from last time I had this wine and call it “Pricey”.

Rating: Pricey

2006 Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by D’Aquino Italian Imports

What They Said:

Per the distributor ” This wine is ideal outside of a meal. It is delicious with hors d’ oeuvres and fish dishes, particullarly lobster and crabmeat. Also an excellent companion for soups and white meats. Serve chilled at a temperature of 8°-10° C.”

What I Think:

This one has been in the fridge for a while as I was keen to try it. I came home from a business trip to find my wife had opened it in my absence. No worries, there is plenty left for an opinion. I pull out the stopper and don’t get the sound I like, it hasn’t been pumped. I now realize I can’t pass negative judgment on this experience even if I want to. Not to bother, it must be good. Even in this state at a bare minimum it was very quaffable. Many of the flavors had been muted but at this price it was still well worth the money. Looking forward to seeing what the next bottle brings.

Rating: Buy It