Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find". By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean, "Hey, you really need to go find this", and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending, we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.
So, this season it's been kind of strange. The Pirates are in first place as of this writing, they've had for much of the season the best record in baseball, although right now I think they're down a few games on that position. It has been downright bizarre as a Pittsburgh native. This is the time of year typically that Steelers training camp is the front of all the sports headlines in town, and really the only thing that matters a whole lot. Not this year. The Pirates could win their division,and they could also make the playoffs. Bizarre.
For those who are not fans of Pittsburgh, or not fans of Pittsburgh fans, we can be a bit unsufferable, the Pirates were perhaps the one example of sports ineptitude that they had to point to. In a city as small as Pittsburgh, it's nearly unfair for there to be two high caliber, consistently high performing franchises in the Steelers and Penguins. The Pirates have always been our way to relate to what it must be like to be a long suffering sports fan like those in Cleveland or Seattle.
This year is different, and I don't know that it signals anything permanent in terms of change. I firmly believe that baseball is a bit broken, it needs a salary cap if it wants to interest fans from cities that don't regularly buy up the leagues talent like New York and Boston. It's too predictable in that regard. Year after year it's the same teams on top, Boston, New York, St. Louis, yawn. This year is different, and I for one am thrilled to be following the Buccos into September. It's been too long.
In honor of baseball's rebirth, at least for this Pirates fan, as Ernie Banks, the most likable Chicago Cub of all time, used to say "let's play two." We've got a double header of sorts for our Friday Find. Oregon Pinot Gris, like my long suffering Pittsburgh Pirates has usually struggled to hold my attention. While it is the most widely planted variety by far in the Willamette Valley I've often found the wines uninspiring, though I'm finding more and more exceptions to that rule. Today's Friday Finds are two very compelling and opposing examples of what the wine can be. Kramer Vineyards has been making a real push via Twitter to get their wines out there, and I have been fortunate enough to participate in quite a few virtual tastings. If you want to check out the action from last night, look for the hashtag #tastekramerwine.
I'm getting to know more and more about their wines, and they make quite a range. They sent two Pinot Gris for this tasting, their 2011, done in steel and their 2009 Reserve with a neutral oak treatment. Both of them are under $20, at $16 and $18 respectively. While they are from two very different vintages, 2009 being a warm one and 11 quite, quite cool they also show a wide range in terms of the variety's style. The 2011 is as bright and stony as they come, with loads of floral, and peach aromatics, screaming acidity and a bright, light finish that lasts quite a while. It's got food wine written all over it in terms of it's ability to cut through things like spices or curry. I really enjoyed the wine, though it's style is not one I often see when it comes to Gris, more like a Riesling almost.
The 2009 Reserve is it's polar opposite. Textured, fuller bodied certainly than the angular 2011, it comes across as an aged wine, and of course it's 4 years old at this point. It's got a bit of honeysuckle and hazelnut aromatically. The wines couldn't be more different expressions of Pinot Gris, where I found a tad of the Gris' oily character on the finish of the 11 there was a lot of oily mouthfeel in the 2009 (this is meant in a positive light). There was a nuttiness and a touch of sweetness that Gwynne picked up that I missed. Winemaker Kim Kramer stated via the twitter that there was in fact a 1% residual sugar. Both wines are well made and worth your while, particularly if like me you're not necessarily smitten with the humdrum of Oregon Pinot Gris that is out there. These will give you hope.