Wine reviews: King Estate 2009 Domaine Pinot Gris and 2008 Pinot Noir

I visited King Estate in Eugene, Oregon years ago before it was quite the palatial vacation destination that it is now (restaurant, posh tasting room, etc.). The winery is quite a drive from Portland so we flew into this teensy airport that was basically a room like one of those airports in the Caribbean. Kind of refreshing, actually. I haven’t been back since but have been enthralled with their wines ever since.

King Estate specializes in Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio) and Pinot Noir, and that’s what I’ve been sipping on these past eight years since I met them. Still family-owned — like most wineries in Oregon — they’ve expanded their horizons with their other, more affordable (and still tasty) Acrobat Pinot Noir and Gris. I really admire what these guys have been doing.

Take the Win a Year of Wild Salmon and Wine sweepstakes they have running right now. Pledge to only eat wild fish instead of farmed and you could win a year of salmon plus King Estate wine. That’s pretty cool, I must say.

So it’s easy to like these wines…

The 2009 Domaine Pinot Gris, made from grapes harvested from their organically-farmed vineyards, is quite stunning. Refreshing, with an excellent smack of acidity and a steely attitude and flavor. Stone fruits like peaches, apricots meld with the lemon-lime and wet stone minerality. Salavacious yet miraculously fruity at the same time. To get this kind of quality, you’d normally have to pay $40 for an Italian Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige. I find this a steal at $25. Drink this paired with shellfish pasta in cream sauce, shrimp in lemon-y sauce, grilled or roasted chicken with herbs. Sweetness = 1.  5 stars. Don’t want to search for it? Buy it online at Wine.com.

King Estate 2008 Domaine Pinot Noir is pretty incredible too. But at $60, it’s out of reach of most of us. Expertly made, it’s lighter-bodied (as all Pinots should be, but often aren’t) and lighter in alcohol (13%) with cranberry, cherry cola,  and a hint of vanilla. Well-balanced with food -friendly acidity and red fruits. Pair with grilled or smoked salmon, eggplant parmigiana, or Truffle Tremor cheese from Cypress Grove Creamery. Sweetness=1. 4 stars.

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