Thanks to the generosity of Inniskillin I have been given the chance to take four of the wines from their Winemaker’s Series on a test run. First up was the 2008 Inniskillin Barrel Aged Pinot Gris.
Judging from the label at least, this wine is the direct mirror image to the un-oaked Chardonnay. A fashionable and widely popular grape, Pinot Gris (known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and various New World regions), has been treated here in the manner that was reserved for its older cousin before everyone convinced themselves that oak gives them headaches. Obviously though it’s what’s in the bottle that matters more and I’ll deal with that in a moment.
But first I’ll make a frank admission. When in moderation I like white wines to have a taste of vanilla that they pick up from oak barrels. Sure, oak is meant to give wine the structure to age for five to thirty years but how often do we drink wine, especially white, this old? For me, almost never. Instead I’d rather think of vanilla the way pastry chefs do: as the seasoning for their creations. For me, it helps to brighten and set off other flavours. Also, as with just about everything else some culture somewhere at some point treated it as an aphrodisiac.
This wine played complement for the Italian meal that we enjoyed after a day of pizza oven construction and I wrote about last week. The subtle acidity worked well to cut the (minimal) oiliness of the deep-fried fritto misto. I was pleasantly surprised to taste how well it stood up to the beef heart of our third course; evoking the complex sweetness of a Japanese plum. In the glass its colour is lemony yellow.
With the balanced support of the barrel aging and under control acid I could see myself enjoying this wine as much on its own as we did with food.
The Inniskillin 2008 Winemaker’s Series Barrel Aged Pinot Gris bears the VQA designation, is widely available at the LCBO and reasonably priced $19.95.