If you drew a line between Napa Valley in California and Willamette Valley in Oregon, Rogue Valley is just about the halfway point. It’s a place of rolling hills, warm sunshine, and several river systems: that is to say, Southern Oregon is a far cry from the Willamette Valley up north.
Del Rio’s vineyards were a century-old pear farm until 1997 when the first vines were planted. Like many new wine regions, their really isn’t yet an established set of grapes grown. I love this time in a wine region’s history: the push and pull of hundred of ideas competing all at once.
One of those ideas is Pinot Gris. The style here is a bit of a curiosity. A touch of residual sugar, a touch of skin contact, and a touch of oxidization. It works well and is a tasty bottle, but that’s not the only reason I am recommending this bottle.
These are flavors of a winery that is in the throws of experimentation. And that is something worth exploring.
On the nose, this Pinot Gris is fresh pear and lanolin, with a wilted fennel component. A lively acidity is balanced with a richness that takes on an overripe pear character. A zot of ocean air keeps the finish interesting as the flavors move toward fresh mango and almonds.