2016 Portlandia Pinot Gris
Yes, Portlandia is a funny name for this Oregon vintner and their wine, and while I can’t claim the wine is serious stuff, I will claim its SERIOUSLY delicious.
Pinot Gris came to Willamette Valley at the same time, and with the same aspirations as Pinot Noir. David Lett brought them to Oregon, and his objective for both grapes was to make world class wine.
Graduating from the University of California, Davis in 1965, David drove a truck with 3,000 vine cuttings to the bucolic and serene Willamette Valley. His idea was simple: The most complex wines, like Burgundy, are made in places where the vines have to struggle. California was too hot for Pinot Noir, he reasoned, while Willamette Valley was exceptionally cool. So cool that only its southeast facing hillsides could ever hope to make Pinot Noir as good as Burgundy. All of that is history, as the valley now has behind it nearly a half century of making outstanding Pinot Noir.
But what of Pinot Gris?
While Pinot Gris is now a fashionable variety, back then it languished in obscurity — even more obscurity than its genetic parent, Pinot Noir. In fact, Gris can look so remarkably similar to Noir that it’s easily mistaken as such. So when David drove his 3,000 vines to Oregon, riding among them were 160 cuttings of Pinot Gris. He had taken them from the only four Pinot Gris plants at UC Davis. Was it purposeful? Maybe. Or maybe it was just a little twist of magical fate, Gris riding along to a place where it would thrive. From those 160 vines, Gris became the second most planted and grown grape variety in Oregon. And with Portlandia, sourced from four vineyards in Willamette Valley, we’re getting one of the best.
The wine opens with crisp aromas of citrus zest, orange blossom, lime, Meyer lemon and white nectarines. The palate delivers a touch of lemon meringue, giving the wine richness while still preserving its mouthwatering acidity. The finish is deliciously smooth, melding together the citrus and tropical flavors to deliver a zesty, clean finish. Like I said, the name might be silly, but the wine is super delicious.
Or, as Wine Enthusiast notes, it’s so good “you’ll want a case of this one.”