Let’s celebrate eWine Issue 250 with a place that makes a great wine for the many people who say, “I don’t drink chardonnay anymore.” It’s one of my favorite springtime wines, but one that doesn’t always have an obvious food accompaniment.
May After Work Wine Tastings: Taste the newly arrived Left Coast Cellars from Oregon’s Willamette River Vally-two Pinot Noirs, a Pinor Gris and Chardonnay at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Joe’s Bistro in Fayetteville. Go to brucecochran.com for details.
Try a new wine this week!
Oregon Pinot Gris
In Oregon’s Willamette River Valley the most important and widely planted white wine grape variety is pinot gris. I think it makes a fine alternatvie to chardonnay, an idea that seems to be catching on with a lot of people.
This grape has become so popular that it’s now grown around the world, but it’s known by different names in different places – pinot grigio in Italy, pinot gris in Oregon and France (Alsace, where it is also called Tokay d’Alsace), and rulander in Germany. And with every name and place there is a different style. The German style is usually the lightest, followed by the Italian style, then the French, and finally, the style found in Oregon.
Pinot gris from Oregon tends to be a little fuller bodied, and fuller flavored. It’s often aged in oak barrels, which adds further depth and complexity. In fact, an Oregon pinot gris description sometimes sounds a little like someone describing a chardonnay: Dry, medium bodied with a balance of crisp acidity and subtle oak accents complementing hints of apple and pear flavors.
These wines are great with lighter seafood dishes, chicken salad sandwiches or mild chesses, or just for something to sip before dinner. Oregonians drink it with salmon, as they do their favorite red, the local pinot noir.
Oregon’s vineyards are on the cool, ocean side of the Cascade Mountains. Pinot gris is a member of the pinot family of grapes, which tends to grow best in cool climates.
I was told about a pinot gris from a winery named Left Coast Cellars, in the heart of the Willamette River Valley wine region. I liked it a lot, so I recently made it available to Arkansas retail stores and restaurants. It retails for about $20. They also make great pinot noir and chardonnay. Their winemaker has worked at the famous Harlan Estate in Napa Valley.