Oregon’s vineyards are indisputably some of the most beautiful in North America. But, as the cliche goes, beauty is only skin deep – in this case, grape skin deep.
Add to the beauty the perfect terroir for producing some of the nation’s best examples of the finicky Pinot Noir grape and you’ve got a recipe for success. That property and those wines usually come with a healthy price tag. My Pinot Noir drinking friends lament the shortage of value Pinot Noir to satisfy their habit.
The few that are out there are often poor imitations of true Pinot Noir. Expect watered down, insipid and flabby mimics of the usually earth, spicy and silky expressions that make Pinot Noir so popular.
Enter King Estate.
The almost 20–year–old vineyard grows nearly 500 acres of organically farmed grapes. It has high–end labels – the Domaine line of estate grown fruit – that qualify as luxury buys but the consumer wins with award–winning Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from its affordable Acrobat label.
With a suggested retail price of less than $20, Acrobat Pinot Noir delivers the smokiness and spice characteristics that devout Pinot Noir lovers crave.
To my palate, it’s a bit sweet on the front end; very berry and jam. Given some time to breathe, that sweetness dissipates and what’s left is a highly drinkable Pinot. And, for Pinot Noir newbies, Acrobat may well be an accessible introduction to a wine that for many requires retuning their palate away from red wines that are typically far higher in tannins, like Cabernet Sauvignon, or higher alcohol juice like Zinfandel.
Certainly don’t overlook the other Acrobat label – Pinot Gris. Another cool weather loving grape, King Estate produces a highly drinkable Pinot Gris that’s tart, fruity – and gives off a hint of white peach on the nose. The wine’s brightness is refreshing but so bold as to likely compete against the usual food pairings like shrimp or mild fish. Likewise, it would be challenged by salads doused with vinaigrette.
Chill it, sip it by the pool or on the boat. It’s a classy bottle of wine that deserves your undivided attention.
For a pairing Pinot Gris, kick up the contribution to your package store and reach for King Estate Domaine Pinot Gris. It’s more earthy, more food friendly and a far more complex wine that it’s lower priced cousin. In fact, it reacts more like Chardonnay – particularly if you’re thinking about a food pairing.
But back to the Pinot Noir...I digress. For my money, I’m reaching for King Estate Pinot Noir. With a suggested retail of under $30, it delivers the complexity, musty earthiness and finishing spice that I so love in Pinot Noir. It’s a far more silky wine than it’s lower priced sibs – carrying King Estate Pinot Noir into a party will get attention. Fill your glass early – this will be gone in no time.
King Estate wines should be available at most area retailers, or they can order for you from National Distributors. A wine dinner featuring several of the labels is planned at Ruth’s Chris Steak House on July 15.