Pinot Gris

Review: 2013 Cline Pinot Gris

It’s the end of September and the temps are still topping 90 degrees here, so a fresh Pinot Gris is in order.

The 2013 Cline Pinot Gris smells like pears and apples and tastes like them, too. It’s spritzy and hits every corner of your mouth on the swig.

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According to the winemaker, the minerality of their wines comes from the cool growing location. The wine is a bit creamy at the end and kind of tangy, like the flavor of grape skins.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Cline
  • Type: Pinot Gris
  • Origin: Sonoma
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $14
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: On a day when you have to stand in front of the fridge to keep cool. While you’re in there, grab a chilled bottle of the Cline Pinot Gris. Don’t blame me if your energy bill jumps.

Top 5: Non-California, U.S. wine locales

I get a little California-centric when it comes to wines, mostly because they’re delicious and secondly because I live here. However, I’ve been learning a lot about other wine locales in the United States that are getting my continental travel bug rattled up.

Here’s my top 5 to-visit list for out-of-state wine regions:

1) Finger Lakes, NY

It’s Harvest season right now in the Finger Lakes, which is home to about 100 wineries, a third of the state of New York’s total. From all the Instagram photos and news stories I’ve seen about it, the Finger Lakes region seems pretty tantalizing, especially from a place that can put both Pinot Noir and Gewurtztraminer (I still can not pronounce the latter for the life of me) in my glass in one visit. And, I want to see those views in person and explore the many hiking trails. A camping trip with a few wineries squeezed in would be awesome if that’s a possibility.

2) Colorado’s Western slope

I’m torn because I want to visit the rockies during the winter to go skiing, but I also want to see the grapes on the western slope bask in the summer sun. Most of the vineyards here are family-owned, a big plus in my book if you plan to visit a site. Some also grow berries, which they let visitors pick!

3) Columbia Valley, Washington

Not only is this region home to Walla Walla–one of the most fun names for a city–but it also has roughly seven dozen wineries. That’s small compared to other regions and I hear you’ve got to plan in advance because often wineries are closed to the public without notice. On the other hand, that makes for a more intimate affair that often includes peeks behind the curtain when it comes to the winemaking process. I’ve seen Muscat, Cab Franc and other great grapes grow here.

4) Eugene, Oregon (more generally, Willamette Valley)

I’ve already been wine tasting in Eugene-twice, but I’d happily go a third time. The area is known for its pinots and I had the best Pinot Gris at Silvan Ridge Winery when I was there last. I have yet to hit up the big fish, King Estate, but Sweet Cheeks brings back fond memories of good food, good friends and good wine, and you can’t beat that!

5) Loudoun County, Virginia

Loudoun County is mostly on the list because I know I’ll get there soon: I have several friends who live a hop, skip and a jump away and a free place to stay makes for a happy visit. Rolling hills, estates and horse-riding trails make up this region, which hosts several weekend wine festivals. And then there’s the pretty wineries: good looks and good grapes, I’m sold.

Plus, as Leanne Wiberg (aka @craterlady on Twitter) of Doukenie Winery informed me: Virginia wines are made from French hybrids, such as Traminette, Chambourcin and chardonel. So it seems there’s still French roots in Thomas Jefferson’s home state, how apt. Jefferson was once the American miniser to Versailles after all.

I had no idea there was a big wine scene in Virginia when I lived in D.C. If I had, I would have taken advantage of it!

Where else outside of California, in the United States, is a stand-up place to go wine tasting?

Pinot Grigio vs. Pinot Gris

I had never heard of Pinot Gris until I visited this girl in Eugene:

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I’m on the left, Ann’s on the right.

That’s Ann on the right, a great friend and Eugene wine ambassador. You see, when Ann was living in Eugene both times I visited she showed me amazing wineries. I had no idea there were even wineries in Eugene!

I also didn’t know about Pinot Gris until my most recent trip. But one sip of a glass of Pinot Gris from Silvan Ridge, and I was hooked. In fact, Oregon’s known for Pinot Gris.

I’ve even spread the gospel of Pinot Gris to friend’s this summer during visits to the Hollywood Bowl. I could never bring enough bottles of the varietal. It went quick!

OK, technically the two are the same grape variety. Now here come the stereotypes about taste:

  • Pinot Grigio tends to be lighter-bodied; Pinot Gris more full-bodied
  • Pinot Grigio tends to be fruitier–think pear and melon; some Pinot Gris have a spice kick

Now, I remember the Pinot Gris I had at Silvan Ridge being pretty soft. It was fruity, but not too fruity, and just felt like silk on the tongue. Full disclosure: it’s not a full Pinot Gris. It was 3% Viognier (the ones I’ve had have always been sweet and flowery), but that’s so little, whose counting?

Give me a glass of Pinot Gris (leave the bottle) and a cheese plate, maybe Manchengo and goat cheese, and I’m a happy camper.