What to drink: 2011 Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir

In this wide, wonderful world of wine overproduction, conglomerates are continually creating new brands and labels and blends with the emphasis more on eye catching artwork or clever catch phrases rather than what’s actually in the bottle. So, when established brands (like King Estate’s Acrobat) peel off another new wine label, I’m quick to raise the red flag. This year the king of Oregon wineries rolled out a new rosé comprised of Pinot Noir. And after trying it, I promptly lowered the old flag.

The 2011 Acrobat Rosé mirrors the brilliant color of sashimi grade salmon. Not excessively dry, it delivers refreshing summer-inspired flavors of raspberry and ripe strawberries. If they can keep the price and quality in line with the rest of the Acrobat wines, over time King Estate may go three for three with their entry-level brand.

Pinot Gris wines thrive in Northwestern U.S.

The Northwestern part of the U.S. has long been a viniculture rival of California’s wine country. Known for their successful production of Pinot Gris, both Washington and Oregon are currently creating some of the best wines in the country.

Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio as the Italians refer to it, is a white grape with a gray-skinned color. It is lighter than Chardonnay and usually not as dry as a Sauvignon Blanc. Typically, Pinot Gris will seldom see any oak barrel influence and is a great choice for receptions and dinner parties because of its middle-of-the-road reputation. All of the Pinot Gris wines reviewed in this column are from the Northwest and show off the best values that Oregon and Washington have to offer.

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Oregon’s 2009 vintage of Pinot Gris scores well

If you do a little perusing in the domestic Pinot Gris/ Pinot Grigio aisle of the store, you notice a pattern: the 2009 vintage of Oregon Pinot Gris is receiving commendable reviews from the glossy wine mags. Like many wine writers, I am always on the lookout for a fresh theme, and here was one waving me down like a New York City taxi.

I tasted and reviewed five Oregon Pinot Gris. The results didn’t prove the wines varied greatly, but did reveal nuances worth mentioning.

The lineup included the 2009 Acobat Pinot Gris, the 2009 King Estate Pinot Gris, the 2009 Benton Lane Pinot Gris, the 2009 Solena Pinot Gris, and the 2009 Elk Cove Pinot Gris. Although the Acrobat and the King Estate are made by the same winery, they are worlds apart, and purposely so.

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