I came across Panther Creek when working on an article about their new Woodinville, Washington tasting room. Indeed, the Oregon-based winery with their Willamette fruit felt the need to spread the Pinot love to the cool kids in Washington who, basically, have none. Unable to visit Oregon or Washington at the moment, the Panther Creek team was kind enough to send me a few samples. I thought I’d start with their Pinot Gris, a grape variety that is making major headway in the Pacific Northwest — and expressed elegantly here.
I have no catchy introduction for this Left Coast Cellars The Orchards Pinot Gris 2017 other than to say this is a legitimate expression of the Pinot Gris grape. I’ve had those that are, for lack of a better word, watery, those that are too fruity, others that are just bland. But here you have the subtlety of aromas, the delicacy of flavors, and that suggestion of texture that makes a white wine sing. Cheers Left Coast — Pinot Gris isn’t just palatable, it’s enjoyable.
Pinot Gris is one of the new kids on the New Zealand wine block, making its first appearance just 30 years ago in 1990. Though it’s only responsible for 6% of the country’s total wine production, it is the third most popular white varietal. In the southern region, the Pinot Gris grapes are higher in acid, resulting in crisper wines. But winemaker Sam Weaver of Mt. Beautiful has a few interesting techniques that give this stereotypically lean white wine a bit of depth and multiple levels of flavor…
New Zealand’s grape-growing and winemaking history is a fairly recent one. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 1960s and into the 1970s that New Zealand was put on the winemaking map. And this is when the Rose family of Wairau River took their first steps into the world of wine. Recognizing the potential of the then untapped region of the Wairau Valley, Phil and Chris rose planted their first vines in 1978. They started their career selling grapes to other winemakers, but in 1991 created the Wairau River label and began crafting their own wines. Today the family owns estate vineyards containing some of the oldest vines in Marlborough, which result in a bodied, often textural wine experience — even with their whites.
J Vineyards is another reliable name to keep in your cellar. They make everything that’s light and bright — from this Pinot Gris to a cool Pinot Noir. And their claim to fame? Well, that’s all about the bubbles. I can’t say I’ve ever been disappointed by a selection from J Vineyards, so let’s start the roll call here with J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Gris.