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Mendelson Vineyards Napa Valley Pinot Gris (half-bottle) 1998

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Napa Valley, California
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    Winemaker Notes

    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.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Mendelson Vineyards

    Mendelson Vineyards

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    Mendelson Vineyards, Napa Valley, California
    The Mendelson Dessert wines are handcrafted gems produced in small lots in Napa, California from the finest California vineyards. Select bunches of late harvest grapes are hand-picked in late fall each year, fermented in small oak barrels then lightly fortified with the finest alembic pot-distilled brandy. The result is a finished wine that’s between 15 and 16 percent alcohol. The Mendelson Pinot Gris and Muscat Canelli are created following the tradition of the Russian Czars who made these dessert wines famous as part of the Massandra Collection.

    Napa Valley

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    One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

    Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

    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.

    EBE095058_1998 Item# 56130