Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, or by any other name, this wine is worth a taste

September 12, 2020

California is still roaring, with up to 24 separate sites ablaze. Recently, a terrible heat wave has swept through the Western states. Conditions are intolerable. I’ve been curious for some time about the reason California gets burned so frequently compared to other states in the region. Coastal climates are less dry moving up the coast, as are the river valleys, but the eastern sides of the mountain ranges are tinder-dry. Hopefully one of the scientists reading here can inform us. I tried researching, but I must not be typing the properly worded search messages.

Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Pinot Beurot (Burgundy), Grauer Burgunder or Rulander (Germany, Austria), and Szurkebarat (Hungary) are all names for a mutation of Pinot Noir; we call it Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris in the USA. It is relatively easy to grow and a prolific producer. PG has so many styles that unlike many of the top-selling varietal wines, there is no clear thread. Let’s start with J Vineyards Pinot Gris, a French-style, dry wine that shows a lovely bouquet of apples, pears, limes and floral notes, primarily jasmine and lemongrass. On the medium-bodied palate, look for fruit notes and minerally acidity. The 2018 won several silver medals, 87 McD points under $14. Soon to hit the shelves, the ‘19 is better, 89 McD.

Cline Cellars Sonoma Coast Estate PG 2018, $14, 87 McD, is pale amber-colored with a complex floral nose. Look for grapefruit, green apples, orange on the palate. Finishes acid bright with hints of honey. It’s been rated 87-88 forever. Have not sampled the 2019.

Fel Wines Anderson Valley Mendocino PG 2019 is a bit upscale but worth the ticket around $27, 90 McD. Fel is owned by Lede Family Wines. Pale old-straw-colored, 13.8 percent ABV, the alcohol lifts apple and pear with hints of lychee, jasmine and honeysuckle. A lovely, juicy mouthfeel with a leesy quality from 5 months on lees; apple and pear repeat with chalk and slate mineral notes. An appropriate acidity cleans up its finish.

J Dusi PG 2018 Paso Robles is a solid 89-point, $15 beauty. My records indicate they’ve rated 88 or better since 2012. Drier than most PG, 12.5 percent ABV, it is redolent of tropical fruit and flower notes. Very crisp and clean palate, goes well with Asian, Mexican and cured charcuterie.

Balletto PG RRV 2019, 87 McD under $20. Tart green apple, mineral, and honey blossoms give way to a creamy mid-palate with pie spice nuance.

Two Shepherds Saralee’s Vineyard Skin Fermented Pinot Gris Rosé Sonoma 2019 is a truly lovely Rosé, pale pink with copper tones. It opens to a pleasing bouquet of cherries and melon. On the palate, berries, peaches and more melon flavors are supported by subdued tannins and a chalk mineral subset.

Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve PG 2018 is another fine choice under $15, 89 McD. Mango, melon, pear and juicy peach supported with citrus flavors and a cleansing acidity.

Ever tried a Ménage à Trois? Their 2018 Limelight PG comprises 76 percent PG, 14 percent Columbard and 5 percent each of Muscat and Riesling. Here’s what their winemaker wrote, “This Pinot Grigio has a fresh, fruit-forward, and deliciously melodic serenade, which will be so memorable you’ll want to share with your special someones, and we’re happy to oblige. Our bright fruit flavors and zippy aromas will never run out of ways to thrill you.” I think it is worth buying as a conversation provoker. Very drinkable, priced around $12.50, 88 McD. Look for citrus and green apples followed by more citrus, a slate mineral palate with slightly honeyed finish.

I wish all a better fall season. Sadly, 2020 was the summer of discontent for many. Please get your flu shots before the news media gins up the dangers of having the flu leading to increased susceptibility to C-19.  I’m holding my breath (lol) that the decision to herd kids and grownups back into schools has salubrious results. Having coached T-ball, youth wrestling and aided with many other kiddie events, I am anxiously awaiting the plans for keeping masks on, washing hands, maintaining distance, etc. This will be no easy task. Hopefully, admin supports our teachers, reacts quickly and sends miscreants immediately home. I believe that message applied early would instruct the children and their parents, some of whom may take their misbehaving children in hand.

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