Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Getting the Gist of Oregon Gris

Yet again the Western world's cognoscenti are finding out that there's a lot to like about the NW when it comes to the finer things in life. It's not only Portland cutting-edge chefs getting featured in the NYT, followed quickly by the Guardian of London touting the groovy shopping to be done here, but now the Gray Lady's wine steward, Mr. Eric Asimov, is getting on board.

Most East Coasters, when they think of Oregon wine, only conjure tired clichés about our pinot noir by old-line producers like Eyrie and Ponzi (not that there's anything wrong with their wine), completely missing excellent winemakers like John Paul at Cameron, rock superstar Jay Somers at J. Christopher, Peter Rosback at Sineann and David O'Reilly, the genius behind O'Reilly's and Owen Roe.

Asimov's Wines of the Times in today's Dining Out section devotes significant column inches to a taste-off of a classic of Oregon's wine scene, our pinot gris. He covers gris made by bigger producers like Adelsheim, Willamette Valley, Yamhill Valley, King Estate and Erath, and includes a few lesser-known wines by the likes of Montinore, Capitello, Stringtown, Lemelson and A to Z. Adelsheim's 2006 Willamette Valley pinot gris was chosen as best value, though it was priced at $18, pretty much the high end of their top 10 picks.

The description calls it "rich and almost oily in texture, with balanced, complex aromas and flavors of lemon, flowers, minerals and almonds." And, while it's no doubt a fine wine and was fairly judged against it's competitors, I would have included the lovely versions made by Evesham Wood, Westry and Chehalem. Then what about those from Sineann and St. Innocent?

Maybe they can't get these other outstanding examples in far-off New York, but I'd say we have an embarrassment of riches here. Or, as Tony Shalhoub's engineer says in Galaxy Quest, "Just FYI..."

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