2018 I. Brand & Family, Pinot Gris, Eden Rift Vineyards, Cienega Valley, San Benito County.
The skin contact Pinot Gris from Ian Brand is an orange wine that seems inspired by the Italian legends Gravner, Zidarich and Radikon, but it reminds me more of Elisabetta Foradori’s version, her Fuoripista, from Alto Adige with a bright amber hue in the glass and beautifully expressive fruit, not as funky or savory as you might think. Coming from the low yielding terraces at Eden Rift in Cienega Valley, not far from Calera in San Benito County, Brand’s Pinot Gris is wonderfully textural and charming on the palate with juicy peach, red apple skin, citrus and passion fruit leading the way along with a touch of mineral, mountain herb, orange zest, clove, a hint of apple better and wet chalk. A great alternative to Rosé this is a wine of body and goes with bigger array of cuisine, it is a great way to explore “Orange” style wines, it is much more comfy for new comers to this style of wines. The skin macerated and fermented Pinot Gris is dry, but lush, making it great with outdoor dinning including grilled chicken, picnic foods as well as hardy sea food dishes, especially cajun spiced salmon, just to name a few things that would suit this interesting wine.
Done in what is called a Romato style for the coppery color in the finished wine, Ian allowed for a significant amount of skin contact and since Pinot Gris has much more pigment than true white grapes, I mean, if you see Pinot Gris/Grigio (grey) at harvest time the grapes themselves are almost as dark as its cousin Pinot Noir, hence the amount of color in the wine. In fact there are some version that are literally as ruby hued as Pinot Noir, in recent years Cameron winery has done a Ramato this style, as well as a darker red version called Rouge Gris, but Brand’s is light amber orangey and very smooth. Served chilled it is an exotic bottle of wine that is more flexible than most, easy to quaff and not too weird to enjoy many glasses unlike some more rustic things like those from the Republic of Georgia which can be very beefy and aggressive, and more of a niche wine. This limited release will go fast, so if you are Orange curious you’ll need to act quickly to get this one, otherwise be sure to check out Ian’s other new offerings, in particular his latest Cab Franc, his Escolle Chardonnay, the La Marea “Alt-Cut” vineyard yeast ferment Albarino and the old vine Mourvedre from the Enz Vineyard before it sells out.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive