Oregon is a state known for fantastic wines. Specifically Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris – both of which absolutely flourish here. However, I do a lot of wine tasting (such a rough job!) and exploration of varietals grown here and have grown very fond of the Riesling grape. Wineries from all over Oregon grow this grape and I am so glad. I’ve had ones that are extremely dry, and also ones that are thick and sweet. Each example, while different, is totally enjoyable depending on context. The 2014 Riesling from Ponzi Vineyards was one that I was able to try at their tasting room right off highway 99 in Dundee, and I instantly fell in love with it. Once I found out it was under $20, I knew it was the perfect choice for those who love local AND frugal finds.
Whenever I talk about Ponzi Vineyards I always feel as though it is hard to give it the credit it truly deserves. For someone like me, who has a passion for wine and the process involved, Ponzi has laid the ground work for my career. All the way back in 1970, after lots of research about what grapes to plant and where, Dick and Nancy Ponzi planted their first grapes. They of course planted the Pinot Noir we adore and love. We know now that this grape is perfectly suited for this climate. It may be a lot of work but it is absolute heaven in the glass. By taking a chance on an area that wasn’t exactly known for growing these grapes, the Ponzis truly helped shape the landscape of the Oregon wine industry we know today. They were also one of the first wineries in Oregon to plant Pinot Gris back in 1979, how cool is that?
The Riesling grape itself is super interesting to me. From a winemaker’s perspective it can be made in many different styles. There are the very dry versions, the off-dry, and the sweet. It can even go into very sweet territory if you allow the fermentation to end early enough. Each of these types are fantastic in their own way. For me it really depends on the occasion. I love having a glass of dessert wine for a post dinner treat. There is something truly decadent about it. The drier versions are also thoroughly enjoyable though and pair great with many types of cuisine. All in all, you could say that the Riesling grape is versatile and just plain delicious.
Winemaker Luisa Ponzi (Yes, this winery is family owned – I love it!) has truly outdone herself with this wine. Like I said above, all types of Riesling styles are great in their own way but this one stood out to me. It was light, refreshing, and very fruit forward. On the nose I got scents of honeysuckle and very ripe red apples. I thought it was going to be very sweet from the nose, but I found it leaned more toward the dry side. The first sip I got notes of apricot and bright tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. The finish was perfectly dry, and my first thought was, “What a perfect balance of acidity”. This wine was just fresh from start to finish.
All I have to say is, buy this wine. It is made right here in Oregon, and it is the perfect choice for literally any occasion. Cheers to delicious, and totally local wines!