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Wine of the week: Chehalem 2007 Pinot Gris

As cool and crisp as a tart Italian citrus ice is the Chehalem 2007 Pinot Gris (about $18 at wine shops) from Oregon's Willamette Valley, a region celebrated for its peerless pinot noirs.

Our first impression of this pale platinum wine was one of airy freshness, reminding us of the snap of white bedsheets line drying on a breezy summer day. The aroma on uncapping was not that of fresh laundry, of course, but of clean white fruit, a perception intensified at first sip. The dominant notes in this beautifully balanced cold-filtered wine are of white peaches and white tea, with overtones of Persian lime, mint and pear and a flinty minerality on the finish.

We drank this wine with great pleasure as an aperitif on a warm evening and stayed with it through a simple supper of cheese omelets with fresh dill and sweet corn. The winemaker considers this a universal food wine and we agree, with one caveat: If bitter greens are on the menu, don't waste this gem at table. Drink it first.

The 2007 was made of grapes harvested ripe from the winery's Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek estate vineyards and was fermented in stainless steel by a process resulting in very low residual sugar in the bottle. Thus the wine's sterling bone dry crispness, a feat achieved without sacrificing a pleasing velvety weight on the tongue. Add in the fact that 2007 was a superior vintage for white grapes in the region, and you have the makings of a wine worth stocking up to beguile the long, hot summer ahead.

Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.

Wine of the week: Chehalem 2007 Pinot Gris 06/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 4:30am]
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