2007 Helfrich Pinot Gris
Talk about stumbling on a terrific bargain. I walked into one of my favorite little wine shops the other day, and found a line up of 2007 Helfrich wines from France’s Alsatian region that caught my eye. They have a Gewürztraminer, a dry Riesling, and a Pinot Gris, all for under $15.
After having particularly good experiences with recent vintages of somewhat more expensive Sonoma County and Anderson Valley, CA Pinot Gris’, I jumped at the opportunity to taste these bottlings. Good Pinot Gris and Rieslings from CA at times have the somewhat unusual characteristic (for a white wine, anyway…) that they actually improve over a day or two in the fridge after opening. So uncracking the screwtop cap on the Helfrich when it was stone-cold, just out of the fridge and smelling it in the glass, I was pleasantly surprised. Right out of the bottle it had a dense, floral and fruity nose with complex aromatics, that begged me to taste without waiting for it to even get above 40 degrees. And I was not disappointed. On the palate you are immediately rewarded with a mouth-filling fruit that has several intense layers of honeysuckle, ripe apple and apricot. The acid balance is definitely there too, but with so much fruit in your mouth you might not even be thinking about how this wine will pair with food. And of course it does. This Pinot Gris is so interesting that it is great on its own as a sippin’ wine, but also has enough body, acidity and finesse to stand up to strong cheese hors d’œuvre or vinaigrette-based salad starters, and will have absolutely no trouble at all with a fatty roast chicken or pasta dish.
The Helfrich Gewürztraminer and Riesling are similar to the Pinot Gris in style, but I find the Pinot Gris to be the winner here. It’s the boldest. And it makes me think this wine is vinted specifically for the Western market, with its fat, sensuous layers of fruit. It’s almost as big as my favorite new world Pinot Gris, Breggo Cellars’ Anderson Valley bottling. But that’s another review.
Posted: November 11th, 2009 under Wine and Mixology.