Cru Curious: Archery Summit Vireton Pinot Gris 2012

Cru Curious: Weekly Wine Review

While expanding the Pinot noir program, Mazepink is also raising the profile of Pinot gris.

Archery Summit 2012 Vireton Willamette Valley Pinot Gris ($24.00).

Archery Summit’s 2012 Vireton Pinot gris is a memorable, characterful wine. It’s fragrant and alluring, with notes of mandarin, pink lemonade, and cotton candy. On the palate, it’s fresh and lively, with a silky, mouth-coating texture and notes of pineapple and peach, and a long, minerally finish. Pair with sesame ginger salmon, Thai spicy basil noodles, or seared scallops with an herbed butter sauce. Enjoy now thorough 2015.

Founded in 1993, Archery Summit was the 40th winery in the state. They produce Pinot noir from six estate vineyards across 120 acres in the appellations of Willamette Valley (Red Hills), Dundee Hills, and Ribbon Ridge. In 2013, the winery hired Christopher Mazepink as general manager and winemaker. Formerly the winemaker at Shea Wine Cellars in Newberg, Oregon and director of winemaking and viticulture at Benton Lane Winery in Monroe, Oregon, Mazepink’s career has been dedicated to the region and its flagship grape variety.

“Previously, Oregon wanted to emulate California or Burgundy,” Mazepink said, speaking to the unique nature and the future of Oregon Pinot noir “Now it wants to emulate Oregon. Oregon has one foot in the old and one foot in the new. We have Old World minerality and New World fruit.”

Though Archery Summit is one of the most elevated producers in the region, Mazepink sees value in wines that are accessible and enjoyable on release.

“I think about the consumer first,” Mazepink said. “I drink wine when I’m cooking or eating dinner. It’s important that wine be food friendly, not too big and not too dainty.”

While expanding the Pinot noir program, Mazepink is also raising the profile of Pinot gris. According to the Wine Institute, 2012 saw Pinot grigio/Pinot gris rank as the fourth most popular table wine in the U.S., behind chardonnay, cabernet, and merlot, respectively. Pinot gris and Pinot grigio are the same grape variety, but the wines are stylistically different. Quality Pinot grigio (typically from Italy, possibly from California) is light-bodied, with lively acidity, and citrus and mineral notes. Pinot gris, on the other hand (from Alsace or Willamette Valley), is fuller bodied, and richer.

Chris Mazepink on Archery Summit and Pinot gris:

How do you achieve such pleasing texture in your wines?

Texture, in all of our wines, is a big focus throughout our methodologies. During primary fermentation we convert a small amount of sugar to glycerin and later in fermentation focus on producing fatty acids in an effort to provide texture and weight. Post-fermentation, there is a strong emphasis on the working of lees and insuring proper levels of proteins are provided to the wine.

What is your vision for Pinot gris at Archery Summit?

Pinot gris is the main white grape grown in Oregon and makes up about 22 percent of the state’s total production. At Archery Summit we produce two distinctly different Pinot gris bottlings. The Vireton PG is a tank-fermented wine that can be found in many high-end restaurants across the country. Our Ab Ovo PG is fermented in a concrete egg and some proprietary wooden barrels. The Ab Ovo is only available through our website and wine club and has a real cult following to it.

For consumers just getting to know this variety, your thoughts on quality potential and character of Pinot Gris in Willamette Valley?

The bulk of Oregon Pinot gris features crisp aromatics, fresh acidity, and citrus flavors. The thing that Archery Summit and I really add to that are dimensions of texture through some of the aforementioned methodologies and fermentation vessels.

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