Last week, I wrote about two different Pinot Grigios from Canyon Wind Cellars. The crux of that piece was how blending grapes changes a wine. I examined how blending two different grapes changes the varietal characteristics of wines made from only a single type of grape. Due to a lack of timing and planning, I did not discuss another aspect of blending, blending the same grape from a variety of regions. These types of blends often highlight (or hide) the characteristics of a wine from each sources' terroir. Days after tasting the Colorado Pinot Grigios, I enjoyed a Pinot Gris from California. While Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same cultivar, there is a noticeable difference between the Italian (Grigio) and French (Gris) winemaking styles of these wines. Pinot Grigio tends to be light, crisp and have citrus and mineral aromas and flavors. Unfortunately, many (not the Canyon Wind wines) are often light to a failing. Pinot Gris on the other hand tends to be heavier and fruitier. They also often have a spiciness that I really enjoy.
While the Canyon Wind Cellars' Pinot Grigio was from a single vineyard in the Grand Valley AVA of western Colorado, the California Pinot Gris was sourced from three distinct growing regions in California. 38% of the grapes were sourced from Clarksburg, 35% from Monterrey and 27% from the Russian River Valley. Each of these regions has a distinct climate that imparts different attributes that talented winemakers can use to blend quality wines that may not speak to a specific place but a style. All three source regions share the climatic characteristics of warm days and cool nights that allow grapes to ripen beautifully. Even though this wine is probably a result of bringing in outside fruit to make the Russian River based juice go further, this entry-level blend provides excellent quality for a small price.
2010 J Vineyards and Winery Pinot Gris, California
A brilliant yellow color in the glass, this wine yields exceptionally citrus aromatics. With slightly honeyed notes, lime and orange blossom dominate the nose. Fruity, yet crisp flavors of lime and spicy lemongrass dance across your tongue. The complexity and spiciness offered here are a few of the reasons I usually enjoy Pinot Gris over Pinot Grigio. This 14% abv Sample $16. Good/Very Good (tasted 5/25/11)