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Benton Lane Pinot Gris 2009

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • RP89
  • WS89
  • WE88
13.85% ABV
  • WE91
  • WS90
  • WS90
  • WS90
  • W&S88
  • W&S93
  • W&S93
  • W&S92
  • W&S92
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3.3 6 Ratings
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3.3 6 Ratings
13.85% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The bouquet of this wine just explodes from the glass with aromas of apple blossoms, white peaches and wet stones. On the palate, layers of honeysuckle, nectarines and lemon oil coat the entirety of the mouth. The finish is long and pure with lingering flavors of red star grapefruit. This could very well be our best Pinot Gris to date!

Critical Acclaim

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RP 89
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
There's a generous feel to the apple, peach and almond flavors. The texture has a bit of a raw edge, but the finish shows snap. Drink now through 2012. 5,042 cases made.
WS 89
Wine Spectator
There's a generous feel to the apple, peach and almond flavors. The texture has a bit of a raw edge, but the finish shows snap. Drink now through 2012. 5,042 cases made.
WE 88
Wine Enthusiast
Benton-Lane makes quite a lot of Pinot Gris, stainless-steel fermented and whole cluster pressed, yielding a soft, fragrant, fruity wine with plenty of fresh pear flavor. It flattens out broadly across the palate, full-bodied and lightly spicy. Just a bit more focus would really elevate this wine to the top ranks.
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Benton Lane

Benton Lane

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Benton Lane, Willamette Valley, Oregon
2009 Pinot Gris
Steve and Carol Girard have been owners of Benton-Lane since 1988. Carol and Steve shared a passionate desire to produce great Pinot Noir but decided their native California was probably not the best place in which to make it. Instead, they headed to Oregon where the cooler climate offered the possibility of producing Pinot Noir with better balance and structure.

After countless months of looking at possible properties, Carol and Steve discovered an old sheep ranch called "Sunnymount" in the southern Willamette Valley. It was immediately apparent Sunnymount held great potential as a vineyard site. The property is in the foothills of the costal mountain range on the west side of the valley with hillsides sloping east by southeast, a perfect orientation for planting Pinot Noir.

Sunnymount straddled the border between Benton and Lane counties with some of the land being in each, and so the name Benton-Lane was born. Carol and Steve purchased the property in 1988 and planting of Pinot Noir commenced in 1989. Benton-Lane’s first vintage was 1992 which was custom produced at another local winery. This process continued until 1997 when the Benton-Lane winery was constructed.

Benton-Lane produced Pinot Noir exclusively until 2003. In 2004, the winery began full-scale commercial production of Pinot Gris from grapes purchased from carefully selected Willamette Valley growers.

Willamette Valley

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One of Pinot Noir’s most successful New World outposts, the Willamette Valley is the largest and most important AVA in Oregon. With a temperate climate moderated by a Pacific Ocean influence, it is perfect for cool-climate viticulture—warm and dry summers allow for steady, even ripening, and frost is rarely a risk during spring and even winter. Mountain ranges bordering three sides of the valley, particularly the Chehalem Mountains, provide the option for higher-elevation, cooler vineyard sites. The three prominent soil types here create significant differences in wine styles between vineyards and sub-AVAs. The iron-rich, basalt-based Jory volcanic soils found commonly in the Dundee Hills are rich in clay and hold water well; the chalky, sedimentary soils of Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton, and McMinnville encourage complex root systems as vines struggle to search for water and minerals. The silty loess found in the Chehalem Mountains, somewhere in between the other two in texture, is fertile and well-draining but erodes easily, creating challenges for growers but necessitating careful vineyard management.

The celebrated Pinot Noir of the Willamette Valley typically offers supple red fruit, especially cranberry, without the powerful punch often packed by its California counterparts. Elegance is paramount here, and fruit flavors are balanced by forest floor, wild mushroom, and dried herbs—much more in line with Burgundian examples of the variety. Chardonnay too takes its inspiration from the French motherland, focusing on tart, crisp fruit and minerality, rarely relying upon heavy new oak. Pinot Gris here is fleshy and bright, and Riesling is dry, aromatic, and citrus-focused.

Pinot Gris/Grigio

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One grape variety with two very distinct personas, Pinot Gris in France is rich, round, and aromatic, while Pinot Grigio in Italy is simple, crisp, and refreshing. In Italy, Pinot Grigio is grown in the mountainous regions of Trentino, Friuli, and Alto Adige in the northeast. In France it reaches its apex in Alsace. Pinots both “Gris” and “Grigio” are produced successfully in Oregon's Willamette Valley as well as parts of California, and are widely planted throughout central and eastern Europe.

In the Glass

Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity, so full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear, and almond skin. Alsatian styles are aromatic, richly textured and often relatively high in alcohol. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is much more subdued, light, simple, and easy to drink.

Perfect Pairings

Alsace is renowned for its potent food–pork, foie gras, and charcuterie. With its viscous nature, Pinot Gris fits in harmoniously with these heavy hitters. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works better with simple salads, a wide range of seafood, and subtle chicken dishes.

Sommelier Secret

Outside of France and Italy, the decision by the producer whether to label as “Gris” or “Grigio” serves as a strong indicator as to the style of wine in the bottle—the former will typically be a richer, more serious rendition while the latter will be bright, fresh, and fun.

STC828394_2009 Item# 105808

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