King Estate Winery 2008 Signature pinot gris (Oregon)

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on January 29, 2010:

Odd-news in food everywhere…in Australia, some mates warded off a hungry crocodile from eating their catch of…shark. In Argentina, land of the steak, the president suggested that eating pork outperformed that little blue pill behind closed doors. “Honey, is that a pig in the blanket?” And, close your eyes as we go to China, where jailing someone for eating dog meat for 15 straight days is being considered. Mmm, dog hot pot…a sure way to lose weight in my book. “Some people in China still can’t afford meat. We should not blindly copy Western values” was the rebuttal. Well, if you did, then maybe you could afford real meat. Point!

As I dug through research on King Estate Winery, I continued to be fascinated with my “discoveries.” First off, King Estate was founded in 1991 between the hamlets of  Gillespie Corners (a road junction) and Lorane (pop. 389), both about a short country drive southwest of Eugene, in Lane County. There, the land was historically used for timber harvesting, raising livestock and growing fruit. Today, the area is revitalized with boutique wineries, local artists and B&Bs (bed and breakfast inns). I am no economics whiz-boy, so when I write about the economic impact of the wine industry in these parts, this is what I want you to visualize. Wine, to most of us, is contained in glass and is enjoyed, traditionally, with a meal. Wine, to these small towns, is the “blood” that keeps them in existence. Wine, via sales and visitors, preserves the history of the area, which would otherwise be devoured by the moss and overgrowth that has claimed so many other small towns when the logging industry went bust in the ‘80s and ‘90s. This, is why I prefer to drink locally-made wine. And, when I mean “local”, I define that as “within a day’s drive.” And, that the wine is superb is a bonus. But, I digress.

King Estate is like many of its kind in Oregon…fiercely independent, family-driven, and deeply in-tune with its earth. The Estate covers 1,033 acres, of which 465 acres is organic vineyards, and is Oregon Tilth Certified Organic—likely the most stringent “organic” certification program in the country. The Estate has an on-site restaurant and also grows pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, along with other agricultural products, but is best known for its bottlings of pinot gris. (Note: I had no clue). The wines are classified as: Domaine (top tier), Signature, and Acrobat, all of which have garnered high praise from “outside” media. The Estate is also affiliated with the NxNW label, which dabbles into Washington State grapes. King Estate was founded by Ed King Jr. and his son, Ed King III. Ed Jr. is the man behind King Radio Communications out in Kansas State. He is also an electrical engineer and aviation pilot. His equipment guided the Rutan Brothers to circumnavigate the globe in 1986…on one tank of fuel. He also was a good friend to Bill Lear, the inventor of Lear Jet which is now a subsidiary of Bombadier in Montreal.

Get to the wine, already!

The food pairing was a challenge. Nowhere on the ‘net has anyone successfully paired traditionally-made shrimp tempura with wine…until now! The difficulty with this dish is the components: shrimp, panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs), deep-frying, and the dipping sauce (“dashi”). This dashi is the key to the pairing, as the clear, brown liquid is a blend of kelp and throwaway fish parts, so…a little salty and full of umami. This is where a pinot gris shines best, imho.

Color: really bright, sunglasses bright, light straw. Nose: cut open a ripe peach, pear, hint of pineapple, citrus. Mouthfeel: fruit neatly packaged but ready to explode. Tail trail: 4 seconds. Flavors: citrus tart with a dash of baker’s sugar, Fuji apple, mango, pineapple.

Music pairing: Dave Matthews Band “American Baby”. Alcohol: 13.0%. TA 0.59%. pH 3.34. RS 0.47%. 100% stainless. 100% sur lie for five months. Value: $20. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

And, a thanks to the QFC wine steward who recommended this.

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