Beyond its famed Pinot Noirs, Oregon’s Chardonnays have been getting a good deal of attention, and with good reason. But still under the radar in Oregon is another white variety that’s making a name for itself and deserves more consideration. We’re talking about Pinot Gris, better known as the Pinot Grigio from Italy.
While many of the Italian variety are made in a light, quaffable style that has come to define the category, Pinot Gris from other regions, including the U.S. and France’s Alsace, tend to be more substantial and complex — altogether different from the easy-drinking bottles from Italy lined up on many wine-store shelves.
A good example of that is Firesteed Cellars’ 2019 Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. At about $16, this crisp and delicious wine offers unusual complexity. It is bursting with flavors, including pear and melon; touches of strawberry, orange, and honey; and floral and herbal notes in the background.
Medium-bodied at 13.5 percent ABV, and made without oak, it’s wonderful on its own as an aperitif, and will also pair well with seafood and spicy foods. I enjoyed sipping it over several days while working in the kitchen preparing dinner, sensing something a little different in it each time I tasted it.
Firesteed’s 2019 Pinot Gris (and Oregon Pinot Gris in general) is a welcome alternative to the more familiar West Coast Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs and is well worth seeking out. Though it’s newly released and just making its way into stores now, 10,000 cases of the 2019 have been produced, so it should be widely available in short order — and there’s also lots of inventory from recent vintages worth picking up.