AG Pick Under $20: Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris 2009

Nearly three years after launching The Amateur Gastronomer, I’m writing my first AG Pick article on a Pinot Gris.

Why, when I’ve sought to write about a wide variety of grapes and wines, did I somehow manage to neglect this one?  It’s mostly because I don’t drink a lot of Pinot Gris, or its Italian incarnation Pinot Grigio.

Taste is the main factor with the Italian wines.  So that I don’t insult any fans or producers, I’ll politely say that I generally find Pinot Grigio a little too subtle in flavor.

Closer to home, the American Pinot Gris I recently sipped have had funky vegetal and wet moss notes that didn’t really appeal to me.

I’m not against drinking Pinot Gris, it’s just that none of the ones I’ve tasted have really stood out.  That changed earlier this week, when a wine consultant friend brought a bottle of the 2009 Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris to a blind tasting.  From the taste analysis through the final reveal, this Oregon white was a big hit.

First a little background on Pinot Gris.  As its name suggests, this grape is related to Pinot Noir.  With its similar DNA profile, leaves and vines, Pinot Gris is believed to be a mutation of Pinot Noir.  Its name also suggests its color.  Gris, meaning gray in French, refers to the grayish-blue color of the grapes.  Besides France, Italy and the United States, Pinot Gris is grown in numerous regions around the world including South America, Australia and Canada.

The Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris comes from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled after three months.

If you like the crisp acidity of a Chenin Blanc, try this Pinot Gris.  Bright pale yellow in color, the wine has aromas of green apple and lemongrass.  These notes are further expressed on the palate, along with Bartlett pear, honeydew and fresh apricot.  The dry fruit flavors are complemented by flinty minerality and refreshing acidity.  The finish is clean, with a hint of spearmint.

The Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris pairs nicely with fish like cod, trout and poached salmon, as well as light pasta dishes or mild cheeses.

A bottle of the Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris 2009 costs $16.

12.8% alcohol by volume