It’s safe to say that Oregon’s King Estate is one of the pre-eminent producers of pinot gris in the country. And when it comes to pinot gris, people look to Oregon in terms of quality for the price, and to King Estate.
This is no accident. Founder Ed King, Jr., saw both the quality and easy appeal of the variety in Oregon, as well as how it responded to Oregon’s cool climate to provide a wine of unique nerve and complexity. He also recognized that Oregon gris was underrepresented in the marketplace, so much so that the state’s entire output wasn’t enough to reach a national audience. In part, King founded his estate to bridge the pinot-gris gap in national distribution. His team reached out to the trade in the country’s major cities, plied chefs and sommeliers to develop menu items that would make for beneficial pairings (and distributed cookbooks, once they’d compiled recipes). In a little more than a decade, Oregon pinot gris was a thing, and King Estate was the region’s standard-bearer.
Ed King, Jr,. passed away in 2013; his son Ed King, III, now runs the brand. His team makes nine different bottling of pinot gris: several single vineyard wines, reserve bottling and some stylistic variants, including Paradox, their latest.
Paradox flies in the face of the brand’s prevailing styles, which tend to be crisp, vibrant and immediate. Paradox is King Estate’s first barrel-fermented gris, and it has developed a lees character that exceeds prior efforts. At first pass, it has some classic elements—it’s crisp, bright and racy, with apple and pear flavors at its core. But the lees aging (for five months) and barrel maturation renders the wine rounder and slightly more phenolic than nearly everything they’ve done before. With notes of bruised and salted apples and a fruit-skin grip, it’s broad, complex and cellar worthy.
King Estate 2017 Willamette Valley Paradox Pinot Gris
Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.
Patrick J. Comiskey covers US wines for Wine & Spirits magazine, focusing on the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Coast and New York’s Finger Lakes.
This story appears in the print issue of February 2019.
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