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St. Innocent Vitae Springs Pinot Gris 2003

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • RP87
0% ABV
  • RP90
  • RP90
  • RP90
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Winemaker Notes

Most of my Pinot gris eggs are in this basket. Six years ago I asked Earl Van Volkinburg, the grower, to quadruple the acreage, and those vines are now in into production. The Vitae Springs Pinot gris used to be the smallest production lot at St. Innocent (one year we only produced 83 cases), but no longer.

Pinot gris intrigues me because of its unique spiciness. We make two gris - Shea and Vitae Springs Vineyards. Vitae Springs is done in a fruit forward style with no barrel aging. It emphasizes purity of fruit. The wine captivates your nose and mouth with its intriguing balance of fruit and spice. The wine ages beautifully and attains an even greater richness of fruit and viscosity after 4-7 years.

The Vitae Springs fruit was picked at 24 degrees Brix and was fermented dry. The fruit and spice aromas are very intense with great concentration on the palate and a clean, lingering finish. The fruit is a mixture of ripe stone fruit and orange rind. Ripe Pinot gris gets a intriguing spice quality that sometimes has an almost chili-like heat. The 2003 Vitae Springs gris is more Alsacian in charactor with especially lovely fruit.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 87
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
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St. Innocent

St. Innocent Winery

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St. Innocent Winery, 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.

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 Mediterranean 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 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. Silty, loess soils are found in the Chehalem Mountains.

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.

EPCSITPGV_2003 Item# 79190