The Wine Curmudgeon has almost run out of nice things to say about the J Winery pinot gris. You can look here. Or here. Or even here. But given that the 2013 vintage may be J’s best yet ($15, sample, 13.8%), I’ll try to find a couple more:
? Round, soft white fruit — peach, perhaps — but not flabby or overdone so that the fruit is the only thing you taste.
? Fresh and crisp without any bitterness in the back, something else that is not common in this style of wine.
? Honest winemaking, in which the goal was to make a quality wine and not to hit a price point or please a focus group. Those are things that also happen too often with this style of wine.
This California white wine is highly recommended, as always, whether to finish out the summer on the porch or with grilled chicken or even fried catfish.
You don’t have to buy Dad another tie. Wouldn’t he prefer wine?
Tired of ties? Worn out from from all those cheesy department store Father’s Day TV commercials? That’s what wine is for — to make Father’s Day 2014 more fun for everyone involved. Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”
Some wine to consider for Father’s Day 2014:
? Juv y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2008 ($14, purchased, 12%): Delicious and surprisingly sophisticated cava — sparkling wine from Spain — with all sorts of things going on, including honey in the back, some citrus in the front, and even a little minerality. Toast Dad with this one, and impress everyone.
? Ch teau du Donjon Minervois Ros 2013 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Look for sour cherry fruit and some minerality, though a bit thin in the middle. This is not so much a problem with the wine but with the quality of $10 rose, because the wine is quite tasty.
? Robert Oatley Wild Oats Shiraz 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Lots of spice to go with the fruity Australian style (berries?). This is a wine that shiraz lovers will enjoy, as well as those of us who don’t like the style. A fine value, and highly recommended.
? Solena Pinot Gris 2012 ($17, sample, 13.5%) Top-notch Oregon pinot gris (apples, crispy, refreshing) that shows what the state can do with this grape. A bit pricey, but a fine gift for dads who like this kind of wine.
The Wine Curmudgeon has told this story before, but it’s worth repeating because it proves that all of us are guilty of judging a wine before we taste it.
Several years ago, I dismissed the Acrobat when I tasted it at home, mostly because it didn’t taste like I thought it should. By God, I knew pinot gris, and this wasn’t it. A couple of months later, I tasted the wine blind during a wine competition judging, and gave it a gold medal. The difference, of course, was blind tasting.
The current vintage of the Acrobat ($12, purchased, 12.5%) isn’t quite as wonderful as that wine, but it will do. It’s another fine effort from King Estate, a top-notch Oregon winery, to make affordable pinot gris that doesn’t taste like pinot grigo, something that not many wineries do. The fruit in the 2012 isn’t as bright as in previous vintages; more of a subdued lime, and it doesn’t zing quite as much as the gold medal winner did. But it’s still crisp and fresh and a solid effort that offers value.
Serve this chilled, and especially with seafood, something like spaghetti and clam sauce, or any kind of chicken braised in white wine with garlic and onions. And don’t forget to reserve judgement until you taste it.
The pinot gris ($12, purchased, 13%), with a suggested retail price of $17, is too expensive for a wine of the week. But it has been for sale around the country for as much one-third less, including Dallas. For a wine of this quality, charging just $12 is giving it away — not much more than the retailer’s cost. That’s the same price as King’s Acrobat, which is supposed to be the company’s less expensive, entry level pinot gris.
So why not take advantage of the price war to write about a wine that is a value at $17?
This is classic Oregon pinot gris — a little rich, clean and crisp, refreshing as can be, and with green apple and a bit of tropical fruit. This is the kind of wine that has helped Oregon make its own way in the pinot grigio/pinot gris debate, offering wine drinkers a more interesting alternative to the oceans of very ordinary pinot grigio most of us buy.
The wine has never disappointed me, and I’ve actually missed getting samples, which stopped a couple of years ago — something I can’t say about some of the samples I get. This is a holiday wine to stock up on, whether for Thanksgiving, for keeping around the house for company, or saving for yourself. Highly recommended.
I just finished a trade magazine story about pinot grigio, detailing what people are drinking, why they ?re drinking it, and what ?s in the grape ?s future. One of the editor ?s instructions: Make sure to include the J pinot gris in the story.
It ?s easy to see why. The J ($15, sample, 13.8%) is one of the great wine success stories of the past five or six years ? a very well made, reasonably priced wine that does exactly what it is supposed to do.
The J is somewhere in the middle. Look for some lime fruit in the front and a peach pit sort of finish, but there is more to the wine than a wine writer’s description. This is not a simple, full fruit ahead wine. Rather, it ?s about as long and elegant as a wine at this price gets, one that you sip and and then, suddenly, notice that the bottle is empty.
Let ?s be straight about this: The recession, as horrible as it has been, has been great for wine prices. Nothing illustrates this better than the J Pinot Gris, which was just another California wine until J decided it needed something more affordable to sell during the recession and slashed the price by 25 percent.
Does this make up for unemployment, suffering, and hard times? Nope. But to paraphrase Sam in ?Casablanca ?: ?It sure do take the sting out of being recess-ed. ?
This vintage of the pinot gris ($15, sample) is the third at this price, and it ?s certainly the most interesting. The alcohol is lower, and the wine tastes fresher, more lively, and not as soft. There is lots of citrus in the front (lemon and lime?), a tropical-ish middle and a lingering finish that’s pleasant if not very obvious. All in all, a wine that deserves the term yummy.
Serve this chilled on its own or with something fried ? chicken, seafood or mushrooms would all work well.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, in honor of the record-setting temperatures across much of the U.S., heat wave wines:
? Round Hill Chardonnay Oak Free 2010 ($12, sample): This wine deserves a real review, but I'm still waiting — after several calls and emails — to hear from the winery about availability, so it gets a mini-review. Lots of fresh pear and green apple with refreshing crispness. Highly recommended, assuming you can find it.