08 King Estate, Oregon "Acrobat" Pinot Gris
They just won't grow up. From what I saw, they looked pretty well matured in Portland. Corduroys, Sperry boat shoes, Jesus Lizard t-shirts, Starbucks, and briefcases. I mean, man, everyone I met out there had it together. I even came across a winemaker hosting a tasting of 12 wines for four people in khakis and a buttondown. I would've worn Hanes and a headband. Another one talking wine while he signed for some official-looking UPS package. Joked it was from the government, and then it was. The guy at the Italian grocery hacked a kidney from a whole hog while wearing a tie. I'm telling you. Oregon has got it together. But something happens when you go out back. Yeah, through Lake Oswego (thanks, by the way, for keeping all these wineries in business), Tualatin, Corvalis--but keep on keepin' on. Until you get there. You know. Where the sun sets differently. Until you get out to Eugene. Where, I assume, the corduroy is handmade by Pearl Jam (yeah, that's Seattle by way of Evanston, Il, but bear with me), the pork kidneys grow wild beside the ramps along the highway, and, well, everyone still goes to Starbucks. They don't wear pants out here--not if this wine has anything to say. Because you take this pinot gris and easily dress it up with the macquillage--stick some cufflinks on an already overpriced suit. Put the granny pearls on the neckline of that Chanel dress. It's been done everywhere to great success. Take your decent, yeah just pretty good, white grapes. Squeeze 'em. Ferment 'em. And lacquer them in oak. Oh, delicious oak. Some of you guys might know--I make my living in marketing. Have for years. And the marketing hat tells me that's what King Estate should've done (for body, instead, it's aged on its natural yeast for almost half a year). Yeah, I'd write the wine up to shit then, if I wrote about it at all, but these guys would've made a fortune. The rich pear and kiwi, the just-tolerable quinine acidity, that faintly memorable, bar-friendly classic "pinot grigio" taste needs nothing more than some body to it to be a blockbuster. If you really want to know what I mean, try Bergstrom's horrific version. It turns the pear to pineapple and shrouds the whole thing in armor. I would rather drink your underarms. King Estate won't grow up. Won't realize this is a progressive industry. Won't let the market speak. Come on, we're all supposed to taste the same. Consistent quality, right? People don't order "Oregon pinot gris." They order "white wine." So, just make a white wine, guys. Something that goes with both chicken, salad. And cake. No, they won't though. The simple, naive, hippy-dippy Oregonians. I guess they'll stick to their guns. Insist on proving my point that no matter how much great pinot noir Oregon makes (and trust me, it's more than any of us even know), its whites are the pride of God's Country. I think King Estate gets that. That whatever flips and turns it makes are just to reveal what's really inside. To show us the sinew of terroir sticking through the curve of every barrel. And, at the end of the day, keep it easy. Keep it forgiving. Keep it appreciative of our time. Wines this simple are child's play. And they make me want to be a kid again. The way a child, as smart as it may be, will still look at you with longing and hope. Understand me. If you can, even, hold me. Turn on the music and read to me. I'm here, I'm a complex tangle of nerves, and yet all I can think about is you.