We rarely end these blind tastings with a feeling of disappointment. Most often, we finish the night with a sense of excitement and satisfaction that we've tasted some great wines and discovered something new. But this night we generally felt underwhelmed by the entries, because they lacked energy and an element of surprise. Perhaps disappointment is too strong of a word, since there were positives, like their paring with food, but there was also little in the way of wow factor.
Lack of excitement was evidenced in the final scores, with three wines tying for second place -- the first time this has occurred in the nearly twenty years we've been hosting these tastings. One wine received zero points, and another had only a token single point awarded to it.
Our most awarded wine turned out to be from one of the spiritual homelands of Pinot Gris, the Alsace. It also cost more than almost all others, though not exactly expensive, at $24.
Whether it was a stylistic choice by the winemakers, or the result of climate change, we uniformly thought these needed more acidity to keep them alive on our palates. The last time we compared these (back in August 2015), we had more notes like "refreshing" and "brighter". In the end, we decided that none of them were worthy of seeking out again for purchase. That's a rare conclusion.
First Place: Domaine Saint Rémy Pinot Gris 2019 (Alsace). Tasters found scents of ripe white peach, citrus, fresh herbs, and burnt hair, but also a little bit funky, and something saline. David noted, "some hint of locker room." More ripe than the others, and lower in acidity, but with more intense flavors of oranges, nectarines, honey, caramel, and brown sugar. Maybe something fishy. Not super complex, but sticks to the palate, with a smooth texture. Received 23 points. Cathy's bottle. About $24.
Second Place (tie): Cantina Terlano Pinot Grigio Tradition 2021 (Alto Adige). Dusty nose, like a dark basement, plus oranges, peaches, and other riper stone fruit. Musky palate, and also spicy, like nutmeg, and earthy, dark spices. Hints of key lime pie and bacon smoke. A little bit of tang. Nothing special, but not terrible. Ali declared, "It's weird and I didn't like it." Received 20 points. Ali's bottle. About $27.
Second Place (tie): Kendall Jackson Pinot Gris Vintner's Reserve 2021 (California). Smelled brighter than the others, with a poolside or beachside quality, like crushed seashells or crushed rocks. With flavors of lime juice and cotton, this showed some focus and purity, with a hint of creaminess on the mid-palate, ending short, with a sour note. Received 20 points. Mark's bottle. About $15.
Second Place (tie): Callia Pinot Grigio 2021 (Argentina). Tasters were reminded of latex scents, like burnt rubber or bike inner tube, snails from the shore, clean laundry and a cleanser quality, like detergent. A hint of skunk. Harsh in the mouth, with more of that inner tube note, and mint on the attack, plus something metallic. Palate-coating texture, with hints of pineapple, then creamy orange on the finish. Unbalanced. Received 20 points. David's bottle. About $10.
Third Place: Yealands Pinot Gris 2020 (Marlborough). Grandma's soap, flowers, rubber, and eraser on the nose. Unexciting and flat, though maybe subtle would be a better descriptor. Other than Andy noting, "tea water at the end", tasters had little to say about it. Received one point. Kristin's bottle. About $13.
Kings Ridge Pinot Gris 2021 (Oregon). Showed a little bit of color in the glass, with a nose of strawberries, plums, cranberry, and crushed rocks. Ali detected, "Strawberry Shortcake and all her friends." Fruity and very ripe in the mouth, like raspberry and cranberry cocktail, plus something artificial. Lacks acidity. No points. Andy's bottle. About $16.