The grapes of the pinot family prefer colder climates than most, so it’s no surprise that they thrive in coastal Oregon. Though red Oregon pinot noirs get more attention, vintners are also making some delicious white wines, mainly using the paler red grape known as pinot gris. This variety may look red on the vine, but its skin color is not dark enough to make a wine that looks or tastes red. Instead, vintners discard the grape skins early in the winemaking process and ferment the clear juice as they would in making white wines from green grapes. Pinot gris can make a wide spectrum of styles. In northern Italy under the pinot grigio name, its wines are quite light and very mild in flavor. In France’s Alsace region, it makes heavier and more unctuous wines, laden with exotic fruit flavors. Oregon growers can follow either path – picking earlier to make lighter wines or harvesting later to produce plumper ones – but most choose the middle road, as with this affordable offering from Joel Gott. The wine features a delicate texture reminiscent of refreshing Italian pinot grigios, but its fruitier scent and riper flavors of peach and pear are closer to those of French pinot gris. The result is a versatile unoaked white that can serve as a flattering food partner for fish, pork, or chicken.
Joel Gott pinot gris, Oregon, $13.99 (regularly $15.99, sale price through Oct. 30) PLCB Item #6602; Also available at: Martin’s Liquors in Mt. Laurel, $14.99; Kreston’s Wine & Spirits in Wilmington, $12.99.