Now that the dog days of summer are upon us, I thought the time was right time to review an ideal summertime wine. Pinot Gris, also known as Pinot Grigio, is widely known as a great companion to a meal. Currently the most popular white wine produced in Italy, this variety has been making serious strides around the globe and is being produced now with much success in the United States, Australia and Chile.
Pinot Gris is the name of the grape variety. Pinot Grigio is the adapted Italian name for the wine type. The names are interchangeable worldwide, as you will see both used commonly while shopping for wines. America and Australia, however, often bottle them as contrasting wines. The Gris will be light and crisp and the Grigio is a more aromatic, dry and richer wine made in the Italian style. Climate is a factor in the development of this grape. It grows best in cool regions and matures quite quickly while yielding a high sugar content. This leads to a sweeter wine, or when fermented a dryer one with a higher alcohol content.
The Pacific Northwest, due to its cool and wet climate, has become a very popular region for wine production over the past few decades. Vineyards in Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia have flourished and have been turning out critically acclaimed wines for years. The Mariani family, well known in the wine world for importing Riunite to the USA and producing Italy’s beloved Castello Banfi brand, have ventured into Oregon and begun turning out excellent wines under the brand names Pacific Rim and Rainstorm.
Pinot Gris is the first release from Rainstorm Vineyards, and it has already drawn quite a bit of positive attention and gotten very good reviews. The name Rainstorm is meant to embrace and celebrate the challenges that Oregon’s weather presents to the winemakers. It is these conditions that give the wine the characteristics that it has. The bottle itself has a very colorful label to go along with its pale amber hue. Opening finds some nice floral aromas and hints of pear. As with most Pinot Gris, Rainstorm is quite dry, with flavors of citrus, melon, and cucumber. There is a nice crisp acidity that gives it some balance, making it light and refreshing to drink. When looking for foods to pair with this wine, summertime fare comes to mind. Richer seafood dishes like tuna and salmon work well, also shellfish, chicken and salads with fresh vegetables.
Rainstorm Pinot Gris ($8.99-$16.99 online) might be this vineyard’s first offering, but it is well worth checking out this summer while we wait to see if they can duplicate this success with their other offerings.