At a recent family holiday gathering for which my brother cooked, I played my designated role—the bringer of wine, lots of it. I usually show up with a mixed half-case, then pull additional bottles from my overflow stash in my brother’s cellar, to be sure there’s something to go with whatever is on the table. My selections typically include an aromatic white like Riesling, a familiar variety like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, some indigenous Italian or Spanish grapes (even Croatian on occasion) that reflect our extended family’s mixed heritage, Pinot Noir and a big red such as Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah.
Everyone finds their favorites—this time around, my brother was impressed by the elegance of a Mendocino Zinfandel from Paul Dolan—but the wine that seemed to disappear most quickly, somewhat surprising me, was the 2010 Torii Mor Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I’d picked it out for its green credentials—the solar-powered winery has LEED Gold certification and the sustainably farmed vineyard is LIVE-certified—but since I wasn’t about to use the occasion to offer a discourse on environmental practices, that’s not what caught the attention of the people drinking it.
Made in a snappy style, this Pinot Gris showed herb-tinged, mouthwatering grapefruit, tart apple and green pear flavors with a stony undertone. 88 points, non-blind. It made a refreshing sipper as we all caught up around a table of hors d’ouevres and, with its lively finish, it helped revive our palates throughout the big, long holiday meal.
WineSpectator.com members: See the original blind-tasting note for Torii Mor Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2010 (88 points, $18).
Plus, find scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Oregon Pinot Gris.