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Apr 14, 2002 04:38 PM

Cheap and Very Good White Wine Rec

  • m

Last month the 2001 Bodega Lurton Mendoza Pinot Gris was poured for me to evaluate in a blind tasting. This is made from the same grape as Italy’s Pinot Grigio, but is made in a bigger and more fruit-driven style of Alsace (France) where it is known as Pinot Gris. The Lurtons are a winemaking family from Bordeaux with a Berkeley connection. This effort from their new operation in Argentina is impressive.

The aromas and flavors of this wine are ripe and forward with luscious tropical fruit, apricots and melons held in check by tangy acidity. This is an unoaked, full-bodied wine with dense weight on the palate and fat mouthfeel from aging on the lees. It carries through to a solid finish that is somewhat warm with a slight phenolic etch softened by a hint of residual sugar that is in balance. An absolutely delicious and satisfying quaff in the 87-point range.

The best part is that it’s only $6!!!! Without knowing the identity, I had speculated that it would retail for $12 to $15 and others agreed with my quality/price assessment. It could certainly hold its own in that price range. It’s still unbelievable to me that this much richness could be stuffed into a $6 wine. Buy a case to carry you through the summer months – it would be a wonderful accompaniment to the mango recipes we’ve been discussing this week on the board.

This bottle was purchased from Paul Marcus Wines, a fine wine retailer in Oakland, California. It may be even less from discounters.


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  1. Thanks for the rec, Melanie...Pinot Gris is among my favorites, and I never see any I like below $10!! I'm going tomorrow!

    6 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      Please let us know how you like it! It's definitely a new world wine with lots of ripeness and alcohol. The label says 12.5% alcohol, but we thought it looked and felt more like 13 to 13.5%.

      I especially love Pinot Gris with grilled salmon, as we get ready for summer outdoor cooking season, and if served with a mango/lime salsa, this wine would be grand.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Hmm, cumin-rubbed salmon and the Rogue's mango salsa recipe...I'm already there!
        Please, for us relative novices, when you say "New World" wine, I understand the geographic concept, many of my favorites, esp. in my budget, have been South American...But the "Ripeness"? How does that relate to say, dryness?

        1. re: galleygirl

          I'm by no means an expert, but am a rather fanatical hobbyist on wine, and to me ripeness relates literally to what might be perceived as the level of ripeness of the fruit used to make the wine. It shows in the depth of fruit flavorings, which will contribute to the richness of the wine. Dryness, on the other hand, in my lexicon refers to the degree to which the fruit in the wine has fully fermented, as contrasted with sweetness which indicates a lack of complete fermentation. Now, extraordinary ripeness in a wine will likely lend it a "sweeter" flavor, though not in a sugary sense of the word. But when I think "dry," I don't think of unripe fruit. Lack of ripeness usually shows demonstrates itself in tart or light flavors. Just my two cents.

          1. re: Tom M.

            Don't sell yourself short, Tom, that's a pretty complete answer. I'll add a couple more comments to hone in on what I mean by "New World ripeness".

            In general New World grapegrowing regions are warmer and have more fertile soils than Old World growing regions and can achieve higher levels of fruit ripeness. Even in places like the south of France or southern Italy which can achieve great fruit ripeness, the grape material from which wine is made will still mature in a slightly different way.

            Speaking in general terms again, grapes in the New World will build up concentration of sugar faster than the flavor develops. These higher sugar levels will yield higher potential alcohol on fermentation. Acid levels also decline faster in the New World as the grape ripens and the proportion of malic acid, the one that can taste sharp and strident, is lower. The components of tannin achieve greater maturity and will taste less astringent and feel more supple.

            A wine made from New World grapes with this ripeness profile will have richer fruit flavor development, higher alcohol, lower total acid levels, "fruitier" acid composition, and softer tannins. All of these can create a perception of "sweetness" in the wine even if there is no actual unfermented sugar.

            In contrast, the higher acid levels and more astringent tannins of traditional Old World wines can have a drying effect. Tasted side by side, even if both wines have no residual sugar and test at the same level of dryness, the New World wine may often taste "sweeter" than the Old World wine due to the extra ripeness.



            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Thank you both, for the easy-to-assimilate explanations!
              And thank you, 9lives, for the Boston, 2/$9 source!

              Since I tend to have bone-dry Sauvignon Blancs in the house, this'll keep everyone else happy..Although I agree Melanie, it does have a little more kick..

      2. re: galleygirl

        I just purchased 2 bottles for $10 at Martignettis in the North End..they have it on their website in the Brighton store 2/$9. The importer is Ex Cellars Wine Agency in Solvang, CA.

      3. I would like very much to locate the importer and/or NY distributor so I can try the pinot gris here in New York.....could you look at the label and let me know who that is, or ask at the store next time you go there? Many thanks!!!!