Archive for the ‘review pinot grigio wine’ Category

“America, I’d like you to meet Acid…” Double Decker Wines

OK, so I tasted several wines recently that seemed to depart pretty significantly from what I’ve come to expect from American wines in the $10 price range.

Were these wines jammy? No

Were they tooty-fruity (that’s a technical term…)? No

Were they big, fat cocktail wines? Again, no.

Both whites and reds showed great balance, with plenty of acid on the back to balance the fruit on the front end.

This shouldn’t be a big deal, right? But it is. It seems like the $10-and-under domestic market has been taken over by slightly-sweet Pinot Grigios; fleshy, raisin-y Zins; and red blends with enough residual sugar to make my teeth ache.

So, YES, I was thrilled when I tasted through the portfolio of Double Decker Wines, a “new” brand made by the folks at Wente Vineyards. The brand is aimed squarely at the Generation Whatever crowd — younger drinkers coming into the wine market, who want wines that are fun and unpretentious. (But trust me, they’ll also sell well to those of us over-40′s who drink wine with dinner every night and don’t want to plunk down a twenty for each bottle).

The Double Decker winemaking team is young enough to connect well with its audience. Thirty-something winemaker Karl Wente is the fifth generation of his family to be riding the vineyards on their Livermore, California property. The flagship winery dates back to 1883, and has been a leader in California winemaking all along (ever heard of  Wente Clone Chardonnay?)

For the Double Decker project, they source fruit other vineyards, with some pretty impressive results. Let’s get to it.

Double Decker Pinot Grigio 2010 makes me think  of Europe, not California. Made with fruit sourced from cool-climate Arroyo Seco, it shows its stuff right off the bat with a nose of delicate pear and pretty florals. The palate led with some tropical notes, but quickly showed some spice and snap. What lingered on my palate was tangy acidity — a clean, refreshing finish.

I (and several other bloggers) talked to Karl about the wine through a streaming online event (which is also very cool, by the way). He shared some of his winemaking secrets: one of those is that he blends a few percentage points of Riesling and Viognier into his Pinot Grigio. Karl says that these floral, aromatic grapes don’t really announce their presence, but just accentuate the fruit character of the Pinot Grigio.

He goes even further in his pursuit of balance: like the European winemakers, he picks his grapes at a lower brix (that means, when the sugar levels are lower) so that the wine will retain that bright natural acidity.

Yup, it all worked very well for me.

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