I remember when J Vineyards first released their Pinot Gris (PEE no GREE) in 2009 and I was tasting it with their PR Director, George Rose (who is also a very talented photographer, by the way). I learned all about how J, traditionally a sparkling wine house, was planning a foray into the “still” wine business. Including a Pinot Gris they grew on their estate (read the article). Made in such a small production and not even available in Florida yet, he brought the Pinot Gris just as a treat. He’s a friend of mine, so that’s what wine friends do for each other. Except that I fell in love with it. Then it’s unavailability became an evil taunt.
Luckily, I only had to wait another vintage before J Vineyards discovered that everyone else loved this wine too and upped their production quite a bit. The 2010 continues down this path, even though it now bears the “California” AVA – meaning they sourced the grapes from several locations in the state — Clarksburg, Monterey County, and their Russian River Valley estate — instead of from a single AVA (what’s this?). Under the wrong winemaker, this could spell quality disaster but J Vineyards has managed to successfully make that leap.
The 2010 Pinot Gris has a fabulously creamy mouthfeel but offers up a snappy, crisp finish. Medium-bodied and dangerously easy to slurp on a hot day. Aromas of honeyed peach, red apple and honeydew melon follow onto the tongue with a splash of lemon and ripe apricots. Almost Viognier-like in body and flowery aroma but with a lot more food-friendly acidity. Gorgeously well made and now, thankfully easy to find.
Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Price: $14- $18
Occasion: Tasted at the winery.
Availability: At high end grocery stores, big box retailers and on many restaurant wine lists. Or buy it online at Wine.com.
Food pairing: Full flavored ethnic food like Asian stir fry, Indian chicken curry, cumin-rubbed grilled salmon