The Wine Idiot Reviews: Duck Pond Pinot Gris, 2014 ($7.00)
Full disclosure: this was $7 on Manager's Special at Ralph's. I don't recall actually ever seeing this bottle at Trader Joe's, so not sure whether they carry it. In fact, I've been wanting to review a pinot gris for some time, but every time I remember to look for one at TJ's, I can't seem to find a bottle for under $12-15, and I've never felt like springing for that.
Honestly, I was just hoping for a citrus-y, mineral-y white to drink with some lemony chicken and leek soup I had made. This pleasantly impressed me. When it first hit my tongue, it was crazy fruity, and I braced myself for that treacly, back-of-the-throat sweet fruitness that I often find in pinot grigio or particularly fruity chardonnay. (UPDATE: an intrepid reader on the Facebook page pointed out to me that pinot grigio and pinot gris are made from the same grape, which I DID NOT KNOW--ok yes not surprising that I did not know something. However, this fascinating article breaks down how pinot grigio and pinot gris tend to be applied to different styles of this wine, and the author even says "I have also come to really love Oregon Pinot Gris, which in many ways combines the richness and texture of the Alsace style with the more vibrant fruitiness of the Italy style.")
BUT WAIT. Instead, almost immediately, it was like that fruit flavor hit a brick wall and burst into a glittering cascade of crisp, light mineral-y sparkles. The finish, instead of the drawn-out kind of gag-inducing sweetness I was expecting, was quick and clean. The last lingering thing I tasted was...almost...slightly floral? Not in a weird way. It was delicate.
My big takeaway was that this was way better than the La Granja white I tried the day previously. It's not a fair comparison, because the only thing they have in common is that they are both white wines. But it's my blog and I can compare whatever I want. Bottom line--this was a good one, and totally worth $7. Maybe even up to $12-15 if pinot gris is your thing.
What the bottle says: [omitting some pointless boilerplate about memories and savoring the moment] "Wine Profile: Nectarine, Lemon Zest, Minerals, Cantaloupe"
What the Wine Idiot says: Hmmmm. Sure. Yeah, I can get behind that. It did pair well with my lemony soup, so yes I agree with the lemon and minerals. And now that you mention it, I suppose that fruitiness I tasted up front could in fact be called "nectarine" and "cantaloupe." Yeah. This label is not lying.
ABV: 14%. Funny story--the manager's special price tag covered up the ABV on this bottle, so while I normally scan that when purchasing, I did not for this one. I assumed it was a white wine, probably somewhere around 12%, maaaaaybe 13%. And my brother makes fun of me for making a point of checking, because he argues there's not THAT much difference between a 12% ABV wine and a 14% ABV. Maybe not for him, but I can certainly tell the difference. You know how? Because after two glasses of this, I was PRETTY inebriated and tried to claw off the price tag to see what the ABV was but completely lacked the coordination to do so. But generally, after two glasses of a lower-ABV white, I can perform fine-motor-skill tasks with little impairment. So. In my humble opinion, there's a difference, OK?
Who's responsible for this? "Produced & Bottled by Duck Pond Cellars, Dundee OR USA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Surprisingly, no. Screw top.
What do smarter people say about it? OK this is pretty odd. I could find several pretty enthusiastic reviews for the 2012 and 2013 vintages, and even for the 2015 vintage--but nothing written about 2014. On the Duck Pond Cellars website, however, they list awards for each vintage of their pinot gris, and it looks to this complete neophyte that their 2014 was just as lauded as any others. It also looks like this generally sells for $12-14/bottle, so I think I got a great deal on a lovely bottle.
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Yes, I absolutely think so. The Oregon Wine Steward suggested these drinking conditions for the 2015 vintage, and I honestly think they'd serve the 2014 vintage just as well: "a great pairing for sunshine, adirondack chairs, and lightly grilled fish on a summer afternoon."