On the rocky slopes of Sonoma Mountain, nestled between Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Chardonnay, are a few precious rows of Pinot Gris. The Richard Dinner vineyard is best known as the source of Paul Hobbs flagship Chardonnay making the Pinot Gris a bit of an anomaly and one that Rocky Hill winemaker Don Van Staavern (also of Three Sticks) fully exploits. The amount of skin contact is described as “extreme” giving the wine a golden peachy hue. The nose is not a pretty one; more funk and decay than freshly-cut flowers. The texture is compelling, attributable to partial fermentation in concrete eggs with daily stirring of the lees, or dead yeast cells. It’s a savory wine driven by an allusive minerality with a finish that lingers somewhere between perception and memory.
2011 Rocky Hill Pinot Gris, Richard Dinner Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain, $19 directly from the winery or on the list at Dry Creek Kitchen.
Courtney Humiston is a sommelier at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg where she leads a wine list that includes over 500 labels from Sonoma County. Each week she will be selecting a Bay Area wine especially for 7x7 readers.