I just finished reading Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting. It made me painfully thirsty for wine from California and Oregon.
So yesterday I hit Red Feet and picked up two bottles from CA -- which I'll open and talk about later -- and Cristom's 2005 Estate Pinot Gris.
Cristom took root in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The estate is owned by Paul and Eileen Gerrie. In the early '90s the Gerries tapped Steve Doerner, who studied at UC Davis, to make their wine. Wine Geeks says Doerner is big on Pinot Noir.
Cristom produces 8,500 cases per year from 65 acres of vineyard. Growths include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Viognier and Chardonnay.
Estate Pinot Gris hails from a special vineyard called Emilia. Emilia was planted in '93 with two different clones as well as two different rootstocks. Grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks. The winemaker says a glassful brings a plate of Hama Hama oysters to mind.
I uncorked the bottle last night. It's easy on the eye: pale yellow, like hay, with a friendly sparkle. A glass of Goldilocks hair! The cork is made of rubber -- an embarrassing relief considering I broke the Vacqueyras one last time.
Then there was the smell! I got fuzzy peaches, hard green grapes and newborn clover. Nothing overpowering; the notes remained just long enough to welcome you home. This is a bottle I'd like to have in Monterey by the seaside.
The taste drew me to the day my best friend and I tried making butter beer, way back when we first started reading Harry Potter.
The butter beer experiment failed, but if we had been successful, this is how it might have tasted: dry and buttery with notes of vanilla and cream, tempered by a longing for the sea.
It's also light on the alcohol, an aid to well-being without stripping you to your coarser nature.
Cristom's Estate 2005 Pinot Gris is a lively bottle that would easily charm a San Francisco meal at the pier. Think fresh bread, newly-caught fish, sharp salty wind, cold stones, colorful parkas and familiar faces.
I miss the West Coast.
Update: We finished the wine this evening. On day 2, the Cristom Estate 2005 Pinot Gris is less buttery and more wild-grassy. Also, Benj used some of it as a base with egg and flour to coat chicken. Sides included organic spinach, oyster mushrooms and rigatoni. It was a feel-good meal; no aggressive flavours. Yum!