Thanksgiving Wines: New Releases from Ponzi Vineyards

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ponzi Vineyards is an Oregon producer founded in 1970 by Dick and Nanzy Ponzi. They started with 96 cases of Pinot Noir sold to the Portland market in 1976 and have grown from there. Their wines are now available nationally.

Ponzi was among the first wineries in Oregon to commercially produce Pinot Gris which now accounts for one third of the winery's total production. Along with their Willamette Valley Pinot Noir they are Ponzi's flagship white and red wines.

Luisa Ponzi was one of America's first women winemakers to be formally educated in Burgundy. She's been winemaker at Ponzi for 20 years working alongside her father Dick Ponzi. In addition to their popular Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines, Ponzi produces a Dolcetto, a Pinot Blanc, an Arneis and other varietal wines.

The Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are crafted in a style that's food-friendly and ready to enjoy upon release. I recently tasted both. I think they'd be terrific picks for Thanksgiving.

2012 Ponzi Pinot Gris
13.2% alcohol
13,000 cases produced

After cool 2010 and 2011 vintages in Oregon, winemakers were thankful for 2012 which was dry and warm from July through mid October. A wet spring kept crop levels low but produced grapes with intense flavors.

The Pinot Gris was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation was prohibited to retain brightness.

Star bright pale gold in color. Perfectly ripened stone fruit on the nose. Supporting lime on the palate. Low-medium acidity makes it enjoyably non-bracing. Finishes very dry especially given then generous nose. Solid.

88/100 WWP: Very Good
Find it on Wine-Searcher

2010 Ponzi Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
13.6% alcohol
8,283 cases produced

After a wet spring, 2010 was the coolest summer in 17 years in Oregon. However, two weeks of warm, dry days prior to harvest enabled Pinot Noir to achieve ripeness - albeit at reduced yields.

The Pinot Noir was hand sorted and destemmed then fermented for 12-20 days with manual punch downs. The wine was aged in 30% new French oak barrels for 11 months. It was racked and bottled by gravity flow - unfiltered and unfined - then aged in bottle for five months before release.

Slightly murky visually specifically towards the end of the bottle. Bright sour cherry nose along with tea and dry autumn leaves. Strawberry rhubarb on the palate and a definite non-sweet streak. Long herbal-tinged finish. Very good stuff. Textbook Oregon Pinot Noir. A nice melancholy wine for autumn.

88/100 WWP: Very Good
Find it on Wine-Searcher

Samples for review.

Along with their estate in Beaverton, and a wine bar and bistro in Dundee, Ponzi recently opened a new state of the art winery and tasting room in Sherwood, Oregon.

Check 'em out:
Ponzi Vineyards

Related Reading:
Thanksgiving Wines: New Releases from Cakebread Cellars


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