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August 13, 2001 • The Ripe Tomato

This "grey" variant of the Pinot family, labeled either Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, has been a popular summertime quaffer in Europe for a decade or more and is starting to get a foothold in the vineyards of California and the Pacific Northwest. This group of wines showed a wide range of style and quality from delightful to disposable. It was no surprise that wines from Alsace dominated the rankings; American wineries generally need to take lessons here. While a few were pleasant enough, the overuse of oak was the downfall of more than one. The wines were accompanied by an appropriately eclectic mix of soft ripened brie, Kalamata and garlic olives, Bing and Ranier cherries, red pear slices, sesame crackers and spiced pumpkin seeds. We have now added links to the appropriate web sites (if they exist) for additional infomation.

Wines are judged to be of Equal Quality Within Categories or Recommendation, listed Alphabetically by Brand


Vintage Varietal or "Name"
Appellation, Vineyard
TASTING NOTES: Color; aroma; flavor; body;
balance; finish, alcohol %. Summary. ($ paid)

KEY: consensus (flaws?)


Josmeyer Pinot Gris.Josmeyer
Pinot Gris
Alsace, FR

Straw color; complex aromas of flowers, honeysuckle, mint, fig, apricot, citrus, tangerine, flint and mineral are inviting, but unusual; ripe apricot, pear and vanilla flavors are also slightly herbal, earthy; medium body with some roundness and richness; excellent balance, maybe slightly low in acid; touch of spice or heat in the medium-long finish, 14%. Very complex and intriguing; not quite on point but delicious in it's minor eccentricities. ($22) Josmeyer


Hugel Tokay Pinot Gris.Hugel
Pinot Gris
Alsace, FR

Pale gold; classic aromas mix flowers, orange blossom, muscat, ripe tropical fruit, apricot, citrus, and pear with hints of oak, spice, flint and petroleum; fruit-forward, orange peel, lemon, grapefruit, litchi, honey and green apple flavors; light body with roundness and a pleasant mouthfeel; good balance is just slightly tart; finish is long, clean, mouthwatering, spicy,yet delicate, 12.5%. Exemplary and very yummy. ($23.50) Hugel


Benessere Pinot Grigio.Benessere
Pinot Grigio

Very pale straw; *complex, fruit and herbal aromas with some whispers of oak, mild spice, salsa-pepper, ethyl acetate, matchstick and funk; fruity, bubble gum, peach, citric, grapefruit, lemon-lime and mineral flavors; light body is nearly vacant; zingy, tart balance; finishes very long, but slightly hot, 14%. *There was some controversy about the aroma of this wine; some tasters thought it was "big and ripe," while others thought "vinous and reduced" described it more accurately. "Benessere" means "well-being" or "prosperity" in Italian. ($20) Benessere

Handley Pinot Gris.Handley
Pinot Gris

Bright light pink "gris"; sweet, bubble gum, floral, ripe tropical citrus, pear, peach, strawberry and cherry aromas; ripe pear, apple and apricot, very fruity, almost rosé-like flavors with a hint of caramel; light to medium and slightly oily body with maybe a touch of CO2; slightly sweet, but balanced with crisp acidity; lightly spicy, long finish, 14.2%. As suggested on the wine's back label, this wine would nicely compliment dishes flavored with cumin or ginger. ($16) Handley

J Pinot Gris."J"
Pinot Gris

Straw; clean, simple, very light apple, pear, citrus, orange or strawberry fruit and new sweet vanilla oak aromas with an earthy, spicy, nutty, almond, or peach pit quality; clean, lean, light flavors are lemon or green apple and fruitier and more in balance than oaky nose would indicate; faintly sweet, soft balance; quick finish, 12.5%. Pleasant, somewhat restrained style might be swamped by fruit and cheese or strong sauces, but would be excellent with trout, fresh oysters, or shrimp cocktail. ($16) J Winery

Morgan Pinot Gris.Morgan
Pinot Gris
Santa Lucia Highlands,
R&D Franscioni Vineyard

Straw, slightly hazy appearance; clean, very fruity aromas of citrus, melon, pears and floral hints of orange blossom, honeysuckle, litchi, anise and vanilla; citrus, grapefruity, mineral flavors are simple, somewhat thin, need fruit; light body; very tart balance tastes a little too strongly of tartaric acid, aspirin; long finish, 13.5%. This wine has some nice character and its tartness could either be buffered with a rich, butter or cream sauced dish, or masked with a lemony preparation. ($14) Morgan

Triimbach Pinot Gris.Trimbach
Pinot Gris
Alsace, FR

Straw; light, closed-in honey, tropical, coconut, anise, citrus, lime, peach, green apple and terpine, petrol aromas; bubble gum, peach, pear, apple, lemon-lime, grapefruit and mineral flavors are quite tasty, spicy and savory, if also quite light and beginning to show age; light body; balance is apply-tart; some tasters described the finish as "elegant," some as "plain" or "none," 13%. This well-made, light and delicate style wine is also reasonably-priced. ($15) (NO web site)


Byron Pinot Gris.Byron
Pinot Gris
Santa Maria Valley, Estate

Brilliant light straw; oaky, smoky, buttery, slightly citric, green apple, honey and orange peel aromas are also a little funky and musty with matchstick and mercaptan (Brettanomyces?); simple, resinous, slightly tropical fruity flavors also repeat the oaky-smoky theme; not much backbone; crisp, slightly tart balance; long, slightly hot finish, 13.5%. The fruit in this wine is drowned by too much winemaking technique and the liberal use of oak. ($20) (NO web site)

Eola Hills Pinot Gris.Eola Hills
Pinot Gris

Color is an orange-pink "gris"; mostly one-note toasty, oaky aroma hints at apples, slate, minerals; slightly fruity, lemon, dried straw and mineral flavors are also dominated by woody, astringent oak tannins and pucker; oily body; balance is angular, lean, sweet and tart; oak carries into tight, wet stone finish, 13.7%. Fatiguing to drink; it's possible that lumberjacks and quarrymen might enjoy its charms. ($13) Eola Hills


Santa Sofia Pinot Grigio.Santa Sofia
Pinot Grigio
Valdadige, Vigneto Fratte, IT

Very pale; big, off-putting stench of mercaptan and rotten egg takes 30 minutes or more of air to become approachable (Brettanomyces and oxidized, too?); wet dog and citric, bitter, baby aspirin flavors; finish needs a chaser, 12%. There were very few comments on taste -- most panelists thought this wine was just too nasty-smelling and would rather flush it than taste it. ($10.50) (NO web site)

This Panel included Regulars Kevin, Mark, Glenn, Bob, Diana, Alan, Marlene, Jon, Jim, Betsy, and Ron

About Pinot Gris / Grigio




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