This Mendelson Pinot Gris is our new world version of the Russian Czar's favorite wine. When we first tasted a hundred year old bottle in the cellars of Massandra in Russia in 1987, our quest began. Our Pinot Gris grapes are grown in the Napa Valley, both at our home vineyard in the Oak Knoll district and in the cool Carneros region. The wine is fermented in small French oak barrels and fortified with alambic pot distilled brandy. We strive for 16% alcohol and 13-15% residual sugar, which we have found to be ideal for short-term enjoyment and long-term aging. The wine is bottled in the spring following harvest to preserve the fresh fruit flavors.
This 1998 Pinot Gris has a brilliant copper color. The aromas are honeyed peach and honeydew melon with hints of rose petals and caramel. Ripe peach flavors on the front of the palate change to golden delicious apples mid-palate, with a touch of nutmeg spiciness. The wine is well balanced creamy and elegant, with a velvety finish.
We like the Pinot Gris in the morning poured over grapefruit. We like to sip it as an aperitif at dusk, while munching on pecans and watching the Napa Valley sunsets. We particularly like it with our favorite spicy foods (Indian, Thai, and Chinese). And we love it with desserts, especially fruit and nut tarts, bittersweet chocolates and caramels. Serve slightly chilled.