Sunday, October 26, 2014
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Drink: Ponzi Pinot Gris Willamette Valley

Ponzi Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2013. Courtesy of Ponzi Vineyards
Ponzi Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2013. Courtesy of Ponzi Vineyards

White wine lovers looking for a change-up from the same old chardonnay or pinot grigio have another fine option to consider: pinot gris.

Wait - isn't pinot gris just the French name for pinot grigio?

Absolutely.

But the gris style perfected in Alsace is distinct from Italian grigio - more lush, less tart, with richer texture.

I've long been a fan of this mostly niche style. It's suddenly fashionable, though, and I've tasted great gris from New Zealand (Kim Crawford Small Parcels), California (an opulent Los Carneros from longtime producer Robert Sinskey).

But Oregon is really the New World home for this rising style, and the current 2013 vintage from Wilamette pioneer Ponzi is a great example of what's possible at less than $20.

First there is orchard fruit on the nose - pear and dried apricot - wrapped in the golden glycerin texture that comes from the old vines.

And then the vineyard's stony soils kick in, minerally with ginger spice, with a hint of almond.

So good.

Is it goodbye, grigio?

–Craig LaBan

Ponzi Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2013, $17.99 (code 37569).

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