Sass Pinot Gris, 12 Oregon, Willamette

It’s been a while since my last post, but today I am extra-energized as I am fresh from a trip to Willamette Valley for OREGON PINOT CAMP!  Yup, it sounds a little dorky.  A “camp” for Pinot Noir?  Indeed.  (Before you get too excited, this camp is invite-only for people in the wine biz.  sorry!).  I’ll be posting a “picture only” recap of Pinot Camp, most likely later this week.  I am now full to the brim with all kinds of wine-nerdy facts about Willamette Valley, and a much deeper love for the area.  But for starters, I want to share what was my top Pinot Gris pick before the trip, and remains so after the trip.  Which really says something, as I tasted a TON of Pinot Gris while there!  Jerry Sass’s remains my fave!



Overall, Pinot Gris is not always my top pick for a white grape, but when you hit on one that is as exquisitely crafted as this one, they can really wow ya.  What makes them different?  How to tell them apart?  Well, in this case I learned that the silkier texture and beautiful, lingering finish is a result of a longer, slower fermentation process.  With a white like Pinot Gris, it can be ready to bottle fairly quickly, or you can take a bit more time (and in this case) a bit of malolactic fermentation; again, adding texture and a bit of richness.

Pinot Gris almost always has varietal characteristics of green apple, green pear, stone fruit and minerality.  The perfect thing about this wine is that it has all that and more; gorgeous cooler-climate fruit, a bit of “wet stone” and soft citrus.  But the finish is what is truly captivating- a bright creaminess/fresh/floral burst, and a touch of nutmeggy (surely that is not a word) spice at the end.  It is equal parts clean and refreshing, yet elegant, soft and fun.  A HECK of a freakin’ deal at $15!  I consider this wine to be at least $2 underpriced (might not seem like much, but in a sea of Pinot Gris, it makes it stand out).  With that being said, I know I would gladly pay $17 or $18 for  it, which makes it even more awesome that it is $15.

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The OTHER amazing thing about this wine is that he only makes just over 600 cases of it!  THAT is awesome!  And might partially account for why it is so good.  I met so many amazing winemakers at OPC, and the fantastic thing was that so many of them were much like Jerry; mellow, easy-going, yet totally serious about making GOOD wine.  And it doesn’t hurt that the Willamette Valley is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.  Even in the rain it is gorgeous.  I’m not usually one for being outside in the rain, and I’ll tell you that I didn’t mind it for one second on our trip.  I’ll leave you for today with two things: 1.) you should really come grab a bottle of this Pinot Gris, and 2.) a picture of Willamette!

(click on it, it’ll get bigger and you’ll get the full effect…)

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