Oregon has slowly been carving out a niche for itself with pinot gris.
At first, the wines tended to be on the sweet side. Admittedly, the buying public was well served by the chosen moniker, pinot gris, over the more common and familiar pinot grigio. The difference can be subtle, but in essence the name informs the consumer that the wine should be in the richer, spicy, and often just a touch sweet Alsatian style as opposed to the crisper, lighter Northern Italian style denoted by pinot grigio.
While many Oregon pinot gris wines continue to feature the added roundness of a touch of sugar, not to mention the balance it offers to the natural bitterness of pinot gris, fewer and fewer are obviously sweet these days. They are not becoming pinot grigio, but rather are showing the maturation of the mindset of many of Oregon’s winemakers. Where once the goal was simply a commercial, successful cash flow product, today the winemakers know that they have to differentiate their products and make a statement with their wines if they want to do more than simply survive.
This latest crop of Oregon’s pinot gris runs the gamut from light and fresh to deep and intense, making the name a little less relevant than it once was but offering huge choice to consumers. We can all applaud this development, but it does making buying a random bottle of Oregon pinot gris a bit more of a challenge than it once was. The rewards are greater, too, so if you start paying attention to Oregon’s pinot gris, your palate will be justly rewarded!
— Gregory Del Piaz, Snooth