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Comfort wine is a new Pinot Grigio

4 mins read

By CELIA STRONG

Always a favorite. Especially if the new is sort of similar to others. 

Sort of a bit different so it stands out and on its own. At a good price so trying it is easy. Trying it a lot is also easy. 

Comes from a known winery so it’s not a total stranger. Yes, new, but comfortable. Like comfort food.

So, beginning with from where. 

Washington State is not the “where” that comes to mind first for Pinot Grigios. This state is known for Merlots and Cabernets, and, for white wines. Riesling is its star. Followed by Chardonnay. 

But previous lessons have covered the rise in popularity of Pinot Grigio. And its ability to make good wines wherever it is grown. 

The first wine grapevines were planted in the state in 1825, at Fort Vancouver. Unfortunately, there is no record of any wines being made from these first plantings. 

German and Italian immigrants, in the 1860s and 1870s were the first who are known to have definitely made wines in Washington. In 1917, Washington was one of the first states to usher in Prohibition. 

After that, their modern wine industry did not reboot until the 1950s.

Grape growing in Washington is very much controlled by the geography across different parts of the state. The Cascade Mountains keep marine influences from the Pacific Ocean and the Puget Sound from reaching eastern Washington, where conditions are almost desert-like. Irrigation is allowed, though. Frosts and hard freezes can cause a lot of destruction to the vines. 

On the good side, the soils in the vineyards’ soils are sandy, stone-studded, lava, and along with the dryness, all together make unfriendly conditions for many vineyard diseases. Like phylloxera. Pinot Grigio, when grown in cooler climates like Washington State, has higher levels of natural fruit acids, a good thing, and a spicy tang in its flavors. Cooler temperature fermentation enhances the freshness and fruitiness of its wines.

Hogue Cellars was founded in 1982 by Mike and Gary Hogue. They are located in the Columbia Valley, Washington’s premiere grape growing region. Warm summer days and cool nights over the growing season lets the grapes ripen fully and still maintain their natural acidity. 

The grapes are harvested at night or very early morning so they are cool. This preserves their fresh fruit flavors. After a gentle whole-berry pressing, fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks at 48 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Seventy percent of the grapes for this wine are grown in the cooler Yakima Valley. Eighteen percent come from Snipes Mountain and 12 percent from Columbia Valley.

Small amounts of Gewurztraminer (to support the Pinot Grigio’s natural spiciness), and Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat Canelli (all to enhance the fruit flavors) are added in. 

This wine is light to medium bodied, with a pale yellow color. Even served very cold it has aromas and flavors that include lemons, yellow and green apples, melons, nectarines, peaches, ginger, orange blossoms and honeysuckle. And a distinct minerality with its lingering acidity finish.

Grown in a cooler climate but perfect for warm weather. A perfect comfort wine. For $8.99 at Bill’s Liquors. Enjoy.

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