Oregon Pinot Gris

Oregon Pinot Gris is woefully out of fashion. Why? Because there’s vast confusion about the name, I’d guess. Pinot Gris is simply French for Pinot Grigio (and, by tradition, Americans use the French), and Pinot Grigio has lately been terrifically in fashion in its cheap, Italian, screamingly acidic, and thin guise. So people who love Pinot Grigio find Oregon Pinot Gris strangely plush (and pricey), while people who hate Pinot Grigio won’t touch the sound-alike wine with a 10-foot pole. Which is sad, because Oregon Pinot Gris is fantastic. Like Pinot Noir, it’s a consummate food wine, especially ideal with an August feast of fish and vegetables.

Wine by Joe, Pinot Gris, Oregon, 2009

Fresh, zesty, and bursting with lemon and lime aromas, this zippy Pinot Gris is perfect for parties. And it’s not just a crowd-pleaser, but a crowd-charmer—refreshing and delicious. Available: Surdyk’s, 303 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls.; 612-379-3232; surdyks.com ($13)

Ponzi, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, 2009

This one’s absolutely gorgeous, full of lively fruit and flower notes (especially green apple and honeysuckle) united by flavors of almond and vanilla which cut through the crisp acidity. It’s a perfect pair to restaurant cooking, especially when you’re using a global palate of accents and fresh herbs. Available: France 44, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls.; 612-925-3252; france44.com ($17)

Eyrie, Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, 2008

Eyrie was the first Pinot Gris in America and remains one of the most important, with ripe honeydew and pear flavors, and a beguiling vanilla creaminess (which comes only from the grapes; there is no oak used). Try it with grilled salmon, and you’ll be amazed that such a great wine costs so little. Available: The Little Wine Shop, 2236 Carter Ave., St. Paul; 651-645-5178; thelittlewineshoppe.com ($19)      

Adelsheim, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, 2009

Looky here! This is one of the best Pinot Gris in the world, and it still doesn’t break the $20 ceiling. Discover the joys of drinking off-trend with this wine: creamy, full-bodied, and rich without being sweet; tangy, refreshing, and vibrating with lively energy. Available: Zipp’s Liquors, 2618 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls.; 612-333-8686; zippsliquors.com  ($19)