2015 Pinot Gris "Naughty Little Hillsides"
Estate Grown, Sta. Rita Hills
In Italy they call it Pinot Grigio. They literally make boat loads of the stuff. I'd say 97% of it is pretty ordinary; insipid at worst, crisp and refreshing at best. The other 3% can be quite good from producers who take the variety beyond the status quo. In France they call it Pinot Gris, and most of it comes from the Alsace region. The wines can be very good, with some of them having been grown in Grand Cru vineyards. In my vineyard, I have two tiny hillsides where I grow this variety. To the west is "Irascible", which you pass by as you drive up to the tasting room, and just south of the winery, in the photo above, is "Incorrigible". Originally my goal was to plant Pinot Gris on a couple of small sites that would encourage their vines to render wines comparable to the world's best. And, as it turns out, that's exactly what these hillsides do. But man, is there hell to pay. Their influence on the vines is really something more akin to stress on steroids. I feel sorry for those poor vines the same way people feel sorry for veal. In the end, I'm OK with it because I don't really think the vines can feel pain. I will say that if these vines do feel some pain, they must also feel a deep pride. Not many vineyards in the world make Pinot Gris like this.
Vivid salt water taffy - peach fruit in the nose. On the pallet, sooo much richness. The finish, which lingers on your tongue forever, tastes almost like an almondy angel food cake. Really unique stuff. I swallow and I realize why I put up with two of the most cantankerous little brats in the wine business.
100% Pinot Gris, Estate Grown, Sta. Rita Hills