Vindicated: Befriending Pinot Grigio

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Good morning! I’ll bet you weren’t aware today is National Pinot Grigio Day… yup. For a country that once outlawed booze, we sure have a lot of alcohol-centric holidays now. Making up for all those lost years, I suppose.

Anyway, just to be clear: Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape. Pinot Grigio is the Italian name and Pinot Gris the French name. American-made wines tend to be labeled Pinot Gris. I may use them interchangeably in this post, but I mean the same thing.

As you may remember from days of yore, I’ve whined about how Pinot Grigio is probably my least favorite wine grape: for one, it’s white (sorry white wines, you’re just a different category altogether) and two, the acidity is usually quite high for my taste, the flavors simple, and the overall effect un-astounding and mildly unpleasant. I’ll drink it with seafood if it’s the only thing lying around, especially to cut a rich dish, but it’s with great reluctance.

Pinot Gris

“Pinot Gris, why is it so hard to love you?”
Photo by Andrew Fogg.

But it’s such a popular wine, and I love wine (even ones that aren’t my all-time favorites), so why haven’t I been able to come to terms with it? It’s like the TV show, Friends… it’s just not funny to me (Coupling, though, is a different story).

Today I’m taking this holiday as an opportunity to learn and grow (#selfimprovementgoals) in my appreciation AND my enjoyment of Pinot Gris – they can’t all be that bad. Perhaps you’re in the same boat of blasé indifference to Pinot Gris: if so, there is hope! Let me throw you a lifeline to not just mediocre, but exceptional Pinot Gris!

Here are two Pinot Gris I love and ❤ heartily ❤ recommend; one from Washington, the other from Oregon. Both are shining stars in their own right, and have awards to prove it.

The first is an estate-bottled Pinot Gris from Washington state, from one of my favorite wineries ever, Skagit Crest Vineyard & Winery. See my other reviews of their Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc — and now I’m completing the Pinot trilogy, ha! 🙂

Skagit Crest’s Pinot Gris is electrifying in its overall effect. If you’re a Pinot Gris doubter/hater/meh-er, you’ll be shocked at what Pinot Gris can be and do with this wine. I sampled it a few months ago at the La Conner tasting room and WOW! It has fantastic, luscious flavors and strikes that perfect balance of body/acid/alcohol/tannin/sweetness that Skagit Crest is famous for.

Here are the details of this wine:                              Skagit Crest Vineyard & Winery Pinot Gris Puget Sound

  • $17/bottle (where to purchase)
  • 12.5% ABV/light-medium body
  • Pale straw color
  • From the tasting notes: “Grassy herbal aromas with flavors of melons, peaches and apricots and hints of citrus fruit. Mellow lasting honeydew finish.”
  • Trophy case: Double Gold Medal – 2022 Platinum Judging
    Gold Medal – 2022 Bellingham Wine Competition

(*Note to self: Buy some more Skagit Crest Pinot Gris next time in La Conner!)

To represent the great wine-producing state of Oregon, I selected the Portlandia Pinot Gris, and not just because I’m a sucker for the TV show, Portlandia. Portlandia Vintners was founded in 2008 to create delicious Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris (and now some others including Cabernet Sauvignon) at prices that don’t make you weep with agony (here, here!). It’s been a while, but I have also had the Portlandia Pinot Noir and it was very good wine at a very good price. I’ll blog about it some other time.

I tried the Portlandia Pinot Gris at a party to take a break from red and was gobsmacked at the deliciousness of this wine. In fact, I kept going back for repeated small pours to be sure this wine was as good as it came across, since I just couldn’t believe it (and sho’nuff, ’twas).

Word to the wise: if you love Oregon Pinot Noir, give Oregon Pinot Gris a shot, you will be very pleasantly surprised.

Portlandia Pinot Gris

Drink this Pinot Gris, but don’t drive a penny-farthing at the same time, or you will be tipsy

Here are the details:

  • $17/bottle through
  • 13.5% ABV, light-medium body
  • Pale straw color
  • 96% Pinot Gris with a touch of Riesling (3%) and a smidge of Viognier (1%) – perhaps to enhance body, texture, or aromatics?
  • Grapes are from the Columbia and Willamette Valley AVAs
  • After a long cool fermentation, wine rested on its lees in 100% stainless steel
  • From the winemaker: “A dry, crisp Pinot Gris. Bright aromas of Meyer lemon and pear are followed by mouthwatering flavors of apricot and nectarine. Smooth and refreshing, the zippy acidity and rich minerality carry through to a lively, lingering finish.”
  • From Tasting Panel: “Alluring scents of honeysuckle and candied pineapple. The well-balanced profile is focused, fruity, and floral. Nectarine and lemon blossom hit their mark with fine acidity and a lean undertone of salinity.”
  • Trophy case: 92 points (Tasting Panel), 91 points (Wine Enthusiast)

Celebrate National Pinot Grigio Day today with a glass of one of these lovely wines! They are especially breezy, pleasant, and uplifting right now in the spring, and make great companions with seafood dishes and cheese boards. I think I can safely say I’m friends with Pinot Gris now (#personalgrowth). 🙂

Are there any shining examples of Pinot Gris you love? Please let me know below, I’d love to add more options to my PG repertoire!

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