Obscurity is a curious thing. It breeds obsession. How else do you explain a wine like Pinot Gris? Although you'll be lucky to find a bottle or two of this white on the shelves of a local wine shop, a passionate few continue to make it and buy it. In fact, its popularity may even be growing--albeit on a modest scale.
The appeal of Pinot Gris is obvious when you taste it. And if you prefer descriptions reduced to a sound bite, here goes: It can have the richness of a Chardonnay and the crisp acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc. Its aromas suggest honeyed peach and other stone fruits, and its flavors include notes of citrus and pear. Although Pinot Gris is at its best in the Alsace region of France, it's made around the world and sometimes under other names. The Italians, for example, call it Pinot Grigio. California makes it too, although it's more at home in Oregon, where the wines have a beauty and vibrancy that can't be ignored (and value prices that can't be ignored, either). Oregon Pinot Gris also avoids a pitfall common to the Alsace wine: a tendency to be overly sweet. Finally, if you're planning to serve a meal with Pinot Gris, keep it simple. You don't want to overwhelm the wine. In Alsace, for example, chefs love it with pork and apples, sausages or delicate white fish.
5 great Pinot Gris