The rumors are true: I’m a wine club junky. Everytime I enter a tasting room, swallow a few drops of their finest, and begin fingering the little paper pamphlets that describe their quarterly offerings, I start reaching for my wallet and putting my name, address, and credit card info on their nicely dotted lines. As such, I’ve been a member of close to a dozen over the past couple years, and am now hovering comfortably somewhere around five wineries that send me wine through the mail regularly.
My consistent favorite, however, is Arroyo Grande’s Laetitia Winery, both because the quality of their pinot noirs, chardonnays, and sparkling vintages are superb and because they always seems to throw in a happily surprising bottle. The latest surprise was their 2005 Pinot Gris Estate, which sat on my wine rack awaiting its special day for about two months. So when I was invited over to the Goulds’ house for a fresh wild Alaskan salmon dinner dinner last Sunday night, the pinot gris sounded perfect, and into the fridge it went.
Though it would be a white wine with our entrees, the evening began with some reds freshly plucked from Costco, the mega store that boasts perhaps the greatest collection of well-priced S.B. County wines and an expansive selection of other regions too. There was a Taz pinot noir, then a 93-rated Alexander Valley cab from Chateau Souverain, all pairing nicely with the Fromage D’Affinois and Thompson seedless green grapes we’d picked up from Lazy Acres. (C’est Cheese, our normal dairy haunt, is closed on Sundays.) Meanwhile, the salmon sucked up the brown sugar, soy sauce, and ginger marinade it was wearing atop the charcoal coals.
When the dinner bell rang, the pinot gris got popped. I was initially worried that our mouths would be too red-soaked to taste the subtle hues of this white, which Laetitia’s people consider to have” nuances of honeysuckle, kiwi, and lemon drop” that “greet the nose with hints of perfume and wet river rock.” That would suck, I figured, if we couldn’t get delivered the promised flavors of “pear, lemony citrus, and lychee nut, layered with the distinct minerality of limestone shale soils.” Luckily, that fear was immediately annihilated.
The wine was crisp and wildly flavorful, despite it’s misleadingly pale veneer. Its flavor weaved a ponderous path through the sweet bites of salmon, tangy chomps of pomegranate-laced wild rice, salty taste of grilled zucchini, and fresh forkfuls of salad. All four of us at the table made indiividual comments upon the wine’s pleasures, and we all lunged for more when there was an opening.
Laetitia’s Pinot Gris Estate 2005 proved a perfect companion for our salmon dinner, but would have also made great outdoor sipping juice or even a nice wash down for some light dessert. Best of all, the price is right at $18 a bottle ($12.60 for us wine club fiends), so click here or be on the look-out for the bottle in your favorite wine stores.