Selections for June 2016

Worth the wait

2015 VOIX de la VIGNE PINOT GRIS – Willamette Valley, Oregon

This was scheduled to land in your April club pack.  I’d tasted it with its finder Robert Morrison and we made the arrangements.  A day before you were supposed to hear of this fresh 2015 Pinot Gris, Robert told us it hadn’t yet made the trip south.  – So we rescheduled, and I’m glad for the delay.  

Lively, unoaked whites such as Oregon Pinot Gris can be pretty nervy in their infancy but develop to a richer state with just another month or two of aging.  “Sweet Tarts” was the prevailing effect on my early impression of baby 2015 Voix de la Vigne (“Voice of the Vine”), but I chose it for the club anticipating the enrichment of a little time.  The rescheduling did this wine a favor:  I’m still sensing the excitement of apricot skin but the perfume now includes a softer pear fruit aspect.  The mouthfeel, once nearly as zingy as Sauvignon Blanc, has calmed and broadened to a more velvet-y place.  Oregon Pinot Gris often employs a virtually undetectable amount of residual sugar, implying a sensation of peachy silkiness on the palate.  That’s happening now.

The Pinot Gris grape is one of several mutations of the unstable red Pinot Noir.  Its most “classic” examples happen in Alsace, France and northern Italy (as Pinot Grigio).  For nearly three decades Oregon has been establishing itself as a newer exponent of the variety.  It seems fitting that two of this wine country’s original claims to fame, Gris and Noir, are both wonderful with one of the area’s most important food products:  Salmon.  That’s your cue?        

A Good Accident


I’m hazy on the details, since embarrassing details are less often fully divulged, but because of a miscommunication on bottling day much more of this wine was made than intended.  A quantity of three or four hundred cases was the desire.  TWELVE hundred came rolling down the conveyor.  – And that’s still a pretty small production actually, because this is a Hendry product after all.  Everything rendered by this family-owned operation in Napa’s southwest Oak Knoll District is sourced from estate fruit; there’s only so much they can do with that!  

We’ve been following these guys nearly as long as we’ve been a wine shop and have come to recognize Hendry as makers of a more conservative wine style.  Whether Cabernet, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or little blends like this 72% Chardonnay / 28% Pinot Gris, the style emphasis is on restraint, balance, and finesse.  That might sound unexciting to the sipper desiring alternatives descriptors like “bombastic” and “over the top,” but Hendry wines are meant to satisfy more subtly.  Sometimes you don’t fully know one of their offerings until you’ve polished off a whole glass, but you’ll probably be steady enough to want a second one.

The white grape of France’s Burgundy region (Chardonnay) joins forces with a mutation of that region’s red grape Pinot Noir (Pinot Gris) to provide liquid minerality as texture and barely-ripe white nectarines and ivory as flavors; lush and focused. 

And what of the accidental over-bottling?  A wine meant to cost a few bucks more doesn’t!  Stock up!