Monday, November 12, 2012

A Special Ostler Pinot Gris

We saw some fresh sablefish today at Wheelhouse Seafoods, a new-ish fish market (to us anyhow) that we recently happened upon.  We don't make it to Granville Island very often; so, it's great finding good quality fish not far from where we live.

And I love sablefish.

Our find called for a nice fresh white and maybe even a bit of treat.  When I grabbed tonight's bottle, I didn't realize how much of a treat it was going to be.

1285.  2008 Ostler - Audrey's Pinot Gris (Waitaki Valley - New Zealand)

I'd picked this bottle up a couple of years back at the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival (at least it was called the Playhouse Festival back then) when New Zealand was one of the regional theme countries.  I can't say that I remembered much about the wine or the winery but there are over a thousand wines served up at the Festival; so, if I bought a bottle, I know that I liked it a lot at the time.

It only took one sip to know that I still did.

Ostler is a boutique producer of premium wines and are pioneering the development of a new cool climate region in the Waitaki Valley on New Zealand's South Island.  Among some additional wines from sourced fruit, Ostler produces two estate-grown wines - a Pinot Noir and this Pinot Gris - and they aim to catch the complexity of the region's limestone-based soils that are geologically unique to New Zealand in this region.

Ostler's website is full of intriguing information and it provided a nice insight into the production of the Pinot Gris - and to its rather unique profile.  This was a Pinot Gris unlike most of the Gris we find locally.  It was weightier with a greater depth of flavours on the palate.  If I hadn't seen the label, I would have thought this was an un-oaked, and very tasty, Chardonnay.  Indeed, winemaker Jeff Sinnott and owner Jim Jerram produce the wine by some engaging typical Chardonnay practices: four months of stirring the wine on its lees (spent yeast cells) and ageing it in older large format oak barrels.

Everything from the aromatic nose to the big, almost buttery, mouth-feel to the smooth integration of ripe tree fruit with a good hint of acidity just made this wine work.

Unfortunately, I think the Festival was a one-off opportunity to try the wine and it isn't regularly available in BC.  But I wouldn't hesitate to pick up some more if I ever saw some.  Granted, it came with a somewhat hefty sticker price of $38 - and that's on the high end for Pinot Gris - but I think it's one of those special wines that's worth the sticker price.

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