January 21, 2007

2005 Adelsheim Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon

The pinot gris grape has been grown in Europe, from an area in the north that includes Alsace, through Burgundy and all the way south to Northern Italy, for a very, very long time. It is a grape very well suited to this region and they produce some outstanding wines. Look for the Alsatian pinot gris by Lucien Albrecht, especially the reserve. Great wine.

Pinot gris was introduced to the United States in Oregon, and Adelsheim is one of the oldest producers of a pinot gris in the US, since 1984. It was a small production wine at the beginning, but the wine has grown in popularity through the efforts of many of the Oregonian producers who vint one. The area of the Willamette Valley is very well suited to grow great pinot gris, much as it is to grow exceptional pinot noir. I think that pinot gris is a great food wine, given its structure, and is an excellent alternative to chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. For Cat and I, it falls somewhere between the two.

This wine was very crisp and bright. We picked up nice round fruit in the nose, like ripe pear. It was enticing and very smooth on the palate with more pear fruit, very subtle lemony citrus, and a really nice creaminess. I tasted a little vanilla in the finish. It's hard to explain, but it is as crisp and refreshing as many great sauvignon blancs, but it offers a depth and complexity that sauvignon blanc just does not have. This pinot gris was delicious, and would pair very well with lighter fish dishes, vegetarian options and fowl. It would also be very nice as a before dinner wine with appetizers.

So let's explain the label. As long as I have been familiar with the wines from Adelsheim, the labels of their wines have had portraits of the women in the Adelsheim family. The portraits are drawn by Ginny Adelsheim, David Adelsheim's wife, and the woman on this label is Ginny's older sister. I think that is cool and truly makes the making of these wines a family affair, which so often it very much is.

cost - $17.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 8

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