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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2011 The Four Graces Pinot Gris***
11.4gracesPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Willamette Valley, OR $20 @ the Winery 4/25/12
A pale, straw-colored wine with bright and enticing aromas of lemon, apple, grapefruit and flowers. The palate is light-bodied with crisp acidity and perfect balance creating an elegant, intensely flavored wine that made my mouth water with every sip. The fruit mirrored the nose with additional notes of minerals, lime, honeysuckle and tangerine on the lengthy finish. The grapes were whole-cluter pressed and fermented in stainless steel. This was my first and favorite Pinot Gris from our entire trip to Oregon. It delighted both nose and palate with complexity and finesse. A wine I will remember. Excellent QPR. Buy it if you can find it. (13.1%abv)

2010 Erath Winery Pinot Gris**
10ErathPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Willamette Valley, OR $14 @ the Winery 4/26/12
A watery-white, lemon-colored wine with a youthful aroma of citrus and tropical fruits along with a hint of flowers and yeast. The palate is light-bodied and crisp, yet intensely fruity (perhaps off-dry) with ripe apple, melon and lemon-lime with notes of banana on the moderate finish. There's nothing complex about this wine, but it has good balance and a lot of flavor, something many wines made from this grape lack. At 13% abv, this would be a great wine for spicy or Asian foods or just to kick back with by the pool. A good bottle for the price. Nothing overly memorable, but sure to please.

2010 Primosic Collio Murno Pinot Grigio**
09primosicPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Friuli, Italy $12 Private Event 5/16/12
A pale, straw-colored wine with bright aromatics of apple, lemon and chalk with hints of apricot and yeast from fermentation on the skins and lees. The palate is light-bodied and elegant with fresh acidity and more intensity of fruit than the nose suggests. The flavors mirror the nose with good complixity and a long finish. The winery has been around since the 19th century and was on the forefront in the 1960s to helping the Collio region regain its pre-war standards and reputation while holding on to its winemaking traditions. I have long been a fan of Pinot Grigios from this region as they all have both elegance, balance and intensity, which many Italian versions from other areas lack. A great buy if you can find it.

2010 Rex HIll Winery, Jacob Hart Vineyard Pinot Gris**
09RexHillPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Willamette Valley, OR $30 @ the Winery 4/26/12
A pale, straw-colored wine with a complex nose of flowers, green fruit, peaches and bread. The palate is medium-bodied and creamy with fresh acidity and a medium-length finish. The flavors were clean and fresh with apple, pear and lemon dominating with notes of toast and minerals. Aged for 7 months in 70% neutral oak and 30% concrete egg. The vineyard was planted 1987 and is now certified Demeter Biodynamic. While classy, enjoyable and well-made, there was nothing about this wine that really jumped out at me, especially for the price. (13.5% abv)

2009 Benvolio Pinot Grigio*
benvolioPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Friuli, Italy $12 BevMo 6/22/11
A water-white, lemon-colored wine with a moderately aromatic nose of lemon, green apple and minerals with hints of peach and grapefruit. The palate is light-bodied with high acidity with flavors that mirror the nose, though not with as much intensity as one would expect. The finish was fairly short with hints of lime and herbs. The wine becomes somewhat disjointed as it warms, which is why I couldn't rate it higher. While it's certainly drinkable, I expected something more interesting for the price, especially since I really enjoyed the 08 version.

2009 Chehalem Winery Reserve Pinot Gris**
09chehalemPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Willamette Valley, OR $24 @ the Winery 4/25/12
A pale, lemon-yellow colored wine with a moderate nose of pear, yellow apple, chalk, herbs and a hint of vanilla. The palate is creamy and medium-bodied with fresh acidity and good balance. The wine was fermented in neutral barrels and aged 7 months on its' lees, which gives the wine notes of yeast along with the flavors found on the nose. An interesting wine, that I think would have played better with food. Am not used to any barrel treatment with my Pinot Gris and I can't say I loved it, as I expect a more light-bodied, cleaner wine from this grape. It was interesing, in a good way, especially since it was already 3 years old and still vibrant. Its' 15.1% abv was quite a surprise since most wines we encountered were well under 14%, but it hid it quite well. For those looking for a little heft in their white.

2009 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris***
09EyriePG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Willamette Valley, OR $15 Gift 3/6/12
A medium, lemon-colored wine with a bright nose of citrus, lychee, blossom and minerals, which became more pronounced as the wine wamred. The palate is light-medium-bodied, showing more fruit and complexity then the nose let on, with a creamy mouthfeel (it was aged for a year sur-lies) and well-balanced acidity. The flavors are of lemon-creme, melon, elderflower, peaches and a bit of slate on the medium-length finish. Drinks more like an Alsatian version than an Italian one, with a denser mouthfeel than most New World versions. Was equally good with and without food. Eyrie was the first winery to plant this variety in the US in 1970 and it's certainly one of the betters versions I've had that are produced domestically. Will be keeping my eye out for it in the future. Very good QPR. (13.5% abv)

2009 Ronco Severo Pinot Grigio**
09roncoPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Friuli-Venezia, Italy $25 Private Tasting 5/16/12
A pale, copper-colored wine made in the "ramato"-style with the juice left to ferment on the skins for 26 days in open oak casks. The nose is aromatic with orange zest, peaches, spice and melon with hints of candied fruit. The wine is left on the lees for 2 years before it is released. It's an odd experience on the palate, but not an unpleasant one. Light-bodied, yet creamy with a hint of bitterness and grapefruit to allay the sweetness of the long finish. An intense and interesting wine, though not one I think I could drink a whole bottle of. It just tastes a bit old to me and I prefer a lighter, fruitier-style of Pinot Grigio. That said it's a well-crafted wine if you're interested in seeing what the "orange" wine phenomenon is all about.

2009 Trader Joe's VinTJs Pinot Gris*
09VINTJSPinotGris.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Willamette Valley, OR $6 Trader Joe's 11/30/10
A water-white, lemon-colored wine with bright aromatics of apple, citrus, pear and spice. The palate has ripe fruit flavors with high acidity and a medium length finish. Flavors reflect the nose, but don't deliver much complexity, leaving the wine a bit flat and one-dimensional. Most people don't expect a lot from this varietal, but Oregon is supposed to be one of the better regions for this grape, so I had hoped it would be more interesting, even at this price point.

2008 Benvolio Pinot Grigio**
benvolioPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Friuli, Italy $10 Out to Dinner 10/7/09
A pale, straw-colored wine with a youthful nose of flowers, citrus and green fruits. The palate is well-balanced with crisp acidity and ripe flavors of lemon, apple and pear with hints of minerality on the moderate finish. A classy, delicate wine that was fruit-forward, yet dry and very food friendly. Lost none of its flavor or elegance as it warmed. Not very complex, but well-crafted for the price, showing how good this varietal can be from this region. Would purchase again.

2008 Coppola Bianco Pinot Grigio*
08Coppolabianco.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
California $10 Whole Foods 10/2/09
A pale, lemon-colored wine with a lively nose of citrus and tropical fruits. The palate is light-bodied with brisk acidity and flavors of lemon, peach, melon and notes of banana on the crisp finish. Drier than most US versions, this is a clean and well-crafted wine, it just wasn't that interesting and fell apart once it got even slightly warm. It's decent for the price, but nothing I would run out and buy again.

2008 Ermacora Colli dei Orientali Pinot Grigio**
ermacoraPG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Friuli, Italy $15 K&L Wines 5/31/11
A pale, lemon-colored wine with moderate aromas of citrus, green apple, melon and hints of flowers and minerals. The palate is light-bodied with refreshing acidity and a medium mineral, honey and melon finish. The flavors mirror the nose with lemon and apple taking center stage. Not as complex or expressive as the 2007 vintage, though it did show more flavor as it warmed and held its own with our Spring Vegetable Risotto, which really brought out the herb and lemon aspects. A solid, well-balanced, if not overly memorable wine. (13.5% abv)

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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