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St. Innocent Shea Vineyard Pinot Gris 2001

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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    Winemaker Notes

    The raw material from Shea Vineyard's Pinot gris vines is exceptional. The 2001 vintage was picked at a potential alcohol of 14% and fermented dry. The flavors and the concentration are unusually intense from this great Pinot gris site. My winemaking style focuses on building texture and complexity into the wine. By fermenting 20% of the juice in new wood, another layer of texture is added. The wine is aged for 14 months (most Pinot gris are bottled 4-8 months after harvest) and this additional time lets the wine evolve more completely before bottling.

    Shea Vineyard produced St. Innocent's richest and most textural Pinot gris. Aromas of white fruits - peaches, kiwi, melon, and pineapple are layered with intense spice. The flavors of fruit and spice are enhanced by the wine's depth of flavor and complexity on your palate.

    My Alsatian winemaking hero, Andre Ostertag, speaks of how great Pinot gris moves on your palate. The Shea moves laterally over your palate and the place you taste it is constantly changing. Try it in comparison to the Vitae Springs Pinot gris, which is a much more linear wine, and you can experience the textural differences.

    The finish is long, with spice and lingering hints of dried fruit. I expect this Pinot gris to continue to develop over several years. There are no old Pinot gris from this site, however the 1998 Shea Pinot gris has remarkable complexity and purity of fruit at five years of age. It is still young and, with the dry fruit characters still increasing, I expect it to improve for at least four more years

    Because of Shea Vineyard's richness, the best matches are with more richly flavored shellfish and white meat dishes prepared with complex or slightly spicy sauces. Prawns, scallops, and game birds, as well as pork tenderlion, that are sauced with salsas, fruit reductions, or sauces with hints of hot peppers would be great matches.

    Critical Acclaim

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    St. Innocent

    St. Innocent Winery

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    St. Innocent Winery, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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    St. Innocent Winery was founded in May 1988 by Mark Vlossak, the current winemaker and president, and eight investors. Ten tons of grapes were crushed the first fall, producing 396 cases of still and 176 cases of sparkling wine. Production increased to our full capacity of 6800 cases in 2004. The winery is located in Salem, Oregon, at the southeast corner of the Eola Hills, in the mid-Willamette valley.

    St. Innocent produces small lot, handmade wines: seven single vineyard Pinot noirs and a blended Pinot noir called the Villages Cuvée, two Chardonnay from Dijon clone plantings, two Pinot gris, and a Pinot blanc.

    The philosophy behind the winemaking at St Innocent is that the function of wine is to complement and extend the pleasure of a meal. The characteristics of a wine should enhance different food and flavor combinations - this interaction amplifies the pleasure of a meal. To this end, St. Innocent wines tend toward higher acid levels, and more diverse and balanced flavors.

    Yamhill-Carlton District

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    Yamhill-Carlton, characterized by pastoral, rolling hills composed of shallow, quick-draining, ancient marine soil, is ideal for Pinot noir and other cool-climate-loving varieties. It is in the rain shadow of the Coastal Range to its west, whose highest point climbs to an altitude of 3,500 feet. Yamhill-Carlton is actually surrounded by mountains on three sides: Chehalem Mountains to the north, the Dundee Hills to the east and the western Coastal Range to its west, which, when it lets Pacific air through, serves to cool the region.

    Vineyards grow on the ridges surrounding the two small communities of Yamhill and Carlton and cover about 1,200 acres of this 60,000 acre region, which roughly makes a horse-shoe shape on a map.

    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.

    HNYSTIPGA01C_2001 Item# 58660