California's large Central Coast appellation stretches all the way from Santa Barbara County in the south to the Bay Area in the north; in the sub-appellations that span this expansive grape-growing region, cool-climate grape varieties rein. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are by far the most widely planted along California's Central Coast, and while Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards is no stranger to these grape varieties, they recently released their inaugural bottling of Pinot Gris.
A lesser-known grape variety, Pinot Gris dates back to the Middle Ages in France's Burgundy region. Today, it is grown in Austria, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and California—just to name a few. Pinot Gris is a mutant clone of Pinot Noir and therefore grows well in climates that Pinot Noir favors. Along California's Central Coast, Pinot Gris is aptly suited to the coastal terroir of the region's sub-appellations.
Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard's inaugural 2014 Pinot Gris from the Central Coast is crafted with balance in mind by Winemaker Chrissy Wittmann. Comprised of 83% Pinot Gris with 7% Chardonnay, 6% Malvasia Bianca, 2% Verdehlo and 2% Orange Muscat, this wine exhibits a range of aromas and flavors. Twenty percent of the final blend was aged in neutral oak for five months, while the remaining percentage was aged in stainless steel; this combination of aging vessels brings together body, texture and crispness on the palate, and the wine's flavors reflect the unique combination of grapes in the blend.
Quite aromatic, the 2014 Pinot Gris expresses aromas of peach, honeysuckle, kiwi and pineapple on the rather tropical nose. The palate begins with nice spice that sticks to the tip of the tongue, while the smooth body fills the mouth; at mid-palate, touches of the neutral barrel aging are detected in its delicate richness and spice, with flavors of peach, under-ripe pineapple, nectarine and lemon zest. Synergizing with the fruit is a kiss of residual sugar, which will be a welcomed taste for those who prefer a touch of sweetness in their whites. The wine finishes with good length and is dry and zesty with citrus notes. This inaugural release is a very approachable and straightforward Pinot Gris with a lot to like—it's a wine that's easy to sip and will surely disappear fast!
*Originally published on Examiner.