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A stunner from Blue Mountain.
I have all the time in the world for Sid Cross. In addition to being a longtime contributor and wine judge for both VanMag and Western Living and having a wealth of knowledge on all things vinous, he has the ability to ask winemakers the tough questions in a way that seems more like a chat between friends rather than a grand inquisition. A few years back one of his fave topics was (politely) grilling wineries who put “Reserve” on the their labels. What were they doing differently in the vineyard and in the cellar to warrant using the term? Squirms frequently ensued.
Sid was on my mind a few weeks back when I pulled the cork for this bottle of “Reserve” Pinot Gris, although any thoughts that the use of the term was for marketing purposes evaporated when I saw the producer—Blue Mountain. The Mavety family has owned the property for decades and in that time they’ve blazed a trail with Pinot Noir (they’re still easily one of the best in the country) and sparkling wine (where they’re likewise at the pinnacle). But their excellence in winemaking has always been counterbalanced by a reticence to either toot their own horn or price their wine at a level befitting their excellence (it’s a “problem” I’ve railed about before). So when I looked at this bottle it wasn’t the word “Reserve” that had me concerned…it was “Pinot Gris.”
As a rule, I don’t love Pinot Gris, which so frequently manifests in this continent as an everything to everyone grape that has just enough acidity, just enough ripe fruit (or too much), just enough balance, never too pricey. It’s like the impressive valedictorian who everyone respects, but has no close friends. There are numerous exceptions of course, both in B.C. and further afield, but they’re just that—exceptions. And underscoring just how much I have my hand on the pulse of the drinking public: Pinot Gris is the most widely planted white wine grape in the province. People flipping love Pinot Gris.
So for them, and to show I’m to 100% out of touch, I present this bottle from Blue Mountain, which is as delicious and charming a white as I’ve had in a while and yet is still identifiably Pinot Gris. A conundrum? You bet, but a gloriously tasty one. It’s creamy, but not cloying. The telltale pear notes are super focussed and crisp, not soft. And there’s lovely savoury notes of dusty herbs playing subtly in the background. And for Sid, it’s a real reserve: held back for two years (the 2017 is the current vintage when almost everyone else is selling 2019s right now). And because it’s Blue Mountain, it’s ridiculously underpriced.
Heck, maybe I do like Pinot Gris?