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Cristom Pinot Gris 2014
Cristom Vineyards began a quarter of a century ago as a collaboration between an engineer and a biochemist who each possessed a deep-rooted respect for the land, the natural winemaking process, and Pinot Noir. 25 years later, second-generation winegrower and owner Tom Gerrie leads winemaker Steve Doerner and our tenured viticulture team in tending our Estate vineyards, and producing elegant, dynamic wines, recognizable by our hallmark style of whole-cluster fermentation by native yeasts.
Our winemaking philosophy begins with respect for our land and estate vines. We're proud to be Certified Sustainable by Low Input Viticulture & Enology (LIVE), both in our winery which we run responsibly, and in our fields, that are thoughtfully and meticulously farmed with a focus on quality.
The four estate Pinot Noir vineyards - Eileen, Jessie, Louise and Marjorie, named for Gerrie family matriarchs - each possess natural variances in soil, elevation and exposition. With minimal intervention during the winemaking process, Tom, Steve and team strive to craft wines that are an honest recording of both the vineyard and the vintage, producing the ultimate expressions of the stellar fruit we’re fortunate enough to work with. Recognized globally as a leading producer in our beloved Willamette Valley, our wines continue to be a unique blend of tradition, modernity and finesse.
Running north to south, adjacent to the Willamette River, the Eola-Amity Hills AVA has shallow and well-drained soils created from ancient lava flows (called Jory), marine sediments, rocks and alluvial deposits. These soils force vine roots to dig deep, producing small grapes with great concentration. Like in the McMinnville sub-AVA, cold Pacific air streams in via the VanDuzer corridor and assists the maintenance of higher acidities in its grapes. This great concentration, combined with marked acidity, give the Eola-Amity Hills wines—namely Pinot noir—their distinct character. While the region covers 40,000 acres, no more than 1,400 acres are covered in vine.
Showing a unique rosy, purplish hue upon full ripeness, this “white” variety is actually born out of a mutation of Pinot noir. The grape boasts two versions of its name, as well as two generally distinct styles. In Italy, Pinot grigio achieves most success in the mountainous regions of Trentino and Alto Adige as well as in the neighboring Friuli—all in Italy’s northeast. France's Alsace and Oregon's Willamette Valley produce some of the world's most well-regarded Pinot gris wine. California produces both styles with success.
In the Glass
Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity but full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear and almond. Alsatian styles are aromatic (think rose and honey), richly textured and sometimes relatively higher in alcohol compared to its Italian counterparts. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is often much lighter, charming and fruit driven.
The viscosity of a typical Alsatian Pinot Gris allows it to fit in harmoniously with the region's rich foods like pork, charcuterie and foie gras. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works well as an aperitif wine or with seafood and subtle chicken dishes.
Given the color of its berries and aromatic and characterful potential if cared for as it is allowed to fully ripen, the Pinot grigio variety is actually one that is commonly used to make "orange wines." An orange wine is a white wine made in the red wine method, i.e. with fermentation on its skins. This process leads to a wine with more ephemeral aromas, complexity on the palate and a pleasant, light orange hue.