Wine Tasting Dinner: Washington Pinot Gris



By Kori ~ October 21st, 2009.

Washington Pinot GrisLast Friday was a cold, dark, and rainy fall evening here in Seattle, not exactly perfect weather for crisp, refreshing white wines. Nevertheless, we wanted to feature Washington Pinot Gris in one of our monthly wine tasting dinners and simply ran out of summer months to do it. So we just turned up the heat in the house and had it anyway. We had a great group of wines and wonderful guests to share it with so we all forgot about the crummy weather outside.

Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio as it is also known, is a white variety not generally known for its complexity. It is a refreshing, quaffing wine which is why it is one of the most popular “by the glass” wines served in restaurants. In addition to being appealing to many people, Pinot Gris/Grigio is also generally easy on your pocketbook. In fact, four of the six wines in this tasting earned QPR ratings of 5 bangs for your buck.

While everyone enjoyed all of the wines and we would recommend all six, the top three clearly stood out. The 2008 Jones of Washington Pinot Gris, the 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris, and the 2008 Mercer Estates Pinot Gris are excellent wines and paired wonderfully with Mom’s dinner of tomato basil soup, mixed green salad, chicken tapenade, orzo pasta with parmesan and basil, roasted Italian vegetables, and tiramisu for dessert. The consensus favorite, the 2008 Jones of Washington Pinot Gris, really came on with the meal. Sipped by itself, it is slightly sweet but that sweetness and the lively acidity were absolutely perfect with the chicken tapenade. I’m one who focuses on the wine first and the food second, but this pairing was outstanding and truly grabbed my attention.

As well as the Jones of Washington paired with the food in this tasting, I think that it would be an excellent, economical choice to pair with your Thanksgiving turkey and dressing next month.

Washington Pinot Gris lineupFrom 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2008 Jones of Washington Pinot Gris (Wahluke Slope, WA): Watery, straw yellow color, the lightest of the bunch. Gorgeous nose with apricot and citrus aromas. Lots of apricots and slightly sweet on the palate. Off-dry, medium-bodied, lively acidity, and a long finish. Extremely smooth. Great with food.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $13; MadWine (Washington), $12.99

2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris (Columbia Valley, WA): Pale, straw yellow. Tinny and metallic on the nose; citrus and floral notes come through on the palate. Light-bodied and crisp with a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $9; Available elsewhere, $9 to $15

2008 Mercer Estates Pinot Gris (Columbia Valley, WA): Pale, straw yellow. Nose is a bit tight at first. Lots of crisp, citrus flavors, particularly grapefruit and lime. Medium-bodied with a long finish. Very crisp and refreshing. Reminds me a lot of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $12; Available elsewhere, $10 to $11

2008 Maryhill Pinot Gris (Columbia Valley, WA): Pale, straw yellow. Citrus aromas and flavors, especially lemon and lemon zest. Light-bodied and tart with a long, slightly bitter finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $11; Available elsewhere, $11 to $15

2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Pinot Grigio (Columbia Valley, WA): Pale, straw yellow. Popcorn and apricot on the nose; citrus fruits, lime, and apricot on the palate. Light-bodied and crisp with a long finish. Smooth and fresh.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $7; Available elsewhere, $7 to $13

2007 O’Reilly’s Pinot Gris (Columbia Valley, WA): Pale, straw yellow. A tight nose; metallic and flat on the palate. Light-bodied and lively with a medium finish. Seemed a bit plain and bitter compared to the others.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle), $9; Available elsewhere, $12 to $17


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Tasting Dinners, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Jan | October 21st, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for all these great reviews. LaGayle – do you ever post your recipes for the Monthly Wine Tasting dinners? This menu sounded fantastic!

  2. Kori | October 27th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks, Jan. Glad to hear you enjoyed the reviews and the menu. Mom (LaGayle) has received numerous recipe requests so we are considering adding a recipe section to the site. Cheers!

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