THE YEAR'S BEST

In each issue of Wine&Spirits, our critics focus on one variety or group of related wines and selects the best wines in that category that they've tasted in the past year.


     April 2007

Over the last twelve months,
Wine & Spirits tasted 467 American pinot noirs & 357 Tuscan reds

These 6 American Pinot Gris and 5 Italian Pinot Grisgios received the strongest praise from our critics.


Pinot Gris

6 American
94  I  Handley $18
2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Gris
There's coastal freshness to this wine's luscious fruit, and that freshness lasts. Plump and delicious when first poured, the citrus and nectarine flavors deepen and feel more structured the next day. It has the mouthwatering effect of a bite of crisp cucumber, with the textural roundness for fleshy fish, like roast halibut. (2,800 cases) (W&S 8/07) Handley Cellars, Philo, CA
 

 
93  I  Willamette Valley Vineyards $18
2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
Silky and shimmering, this willowy gris leads with spicy pineapple scents. Its heft is supported by lively acidity, taut and vibrant. (W&S 8/07) Willamette Valley Vineyards, Turner, OR
 

 
93  I  Chehalem $18
2005 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
Rich without being the least bit fat, this wine's honeyed pear and marzipan flavors are kept aloft by a fine, minerally cushion of acid. (W&S 12/06) Chehalem, Newberg, OR
 

 
92  I  Benton-Lane $20
2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
Pear and apple flavors fill out as this wine keeps to a fine, clean line with a pleasing citrus-pith bite. For sand dabs. (W&S 8/07) Benton-Lane Winery, Monroe, OR
 

 
93  I  MacMurray Ranch $20
2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Gris
Susan Doyle consistently makes one of the best pinot gris in California. The '05 is luxurious, with ripe pear scents and a firm structure. (W&S 2/07) MacMurray Ranch, Healdsburg, CA
 

 
91  I  Airlie $14
2005 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris
This rich gris leads with aromas of almond blossom; its deep, savory flavors fall between white peach and pear. Enjoy it with prosciutto. (W&S 8/07) Airlie Winery, Monmouth, OR
 

 
5 Italian
93  I  Schiopetto $37
2005 Collio Pinot Grigio
Fresh pear flavor drives this wine, robust in its fleshy richness yet clean and zesty all the way through. The texture is lovely, glimmering with acidity, as if to light the flavor of food you serve with it. Delicious with grilled sea bass. ((W&S 8/07) Vintus, Pleasantville, NY
 

 
92  I  Livio Felluga $25
2006 Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Grigio
This fresh pinot grigio gains its complexity from a range of fruit flavors-high notes of lemon-lime and light pear to deeper nectarine. The fruit impressions shift like sunlight through passing clouds. Decant it for roast Cornish game hens stuffed with Meyer lemons. (W&S 8/07) Mo‘t Hennessy USA, NY
 

 
90  I  J. Hofstätter $16
2005 Alto Adige De Vite Pinot Grigio
The flavor is as crisp and clean as an Asian pear, in contrast to the caress of the texture, which feels pithy and full. Lees-tinged minerality places it with a fleshy fish, like roast halibut. (W&S 8/07) Domaine Select Wine Estates, NY
 

 
90  I  Lis Neris $23
2004 Venezia Giulia Gris Pinot Grigio
Toasty lees make the first impression, a full-on richness marked by ripe pear flavors that leave the wine dripping with fruit. It's floral, zesty and cool, for chicken with white wine and cream. (W&S 8/07) MHW Ltd., Manhasset, NY
 

 
90  I  Elena Walch $26
2005 Alto Adige Castel Ringberg Pinot Grigio
Luscious and juicy, this emphasizes nutty flavors more than fruit. That leesiness lasts, finishing clean, for grilled prawns. (W&S 8/07) Artisan Wines, Norwalk, CT; American Wine Distributors, San Francisco, CA
 

 

Sauvignon Blancs

6 American
93  I  Hanna $17
2006 Russian River Valley Slusser
Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc This wine has the Pacific cool of the Russian River Valley and a lovely pearlike flavor set in a generous texture. For fresh-caught trout. (W&S 8/07) Hanna Winery, Santa Rosa, CA
 

 
92  I  Napa Wine Co. $18
2005 Yountville Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Refined and cool, this wine's green fig flavors are marked by white grapefruit tartness. Serve chilled with prawns. (W&S 10/06) Napa Wine Company, Oakville, CA
 

 
91  I  Girard $16
2006 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
This wine's brisk citrus flavors edge toward tangelo or pomelo. It's clean and fresh, its fat texture edged in bright lemon zest. A mouthwatering white to chill for grilled snapper or sea bass. (W&S 8/07) Girard Winery, Napa, CA
 

 
91  I  Sauvignon Republic $16
2006 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc
This wine's cut-grass greenness is soft rather than piercing, its zesty spice lasting with the clarity of the fruit. (W&S 8/07) Sauvignon Republic Cellars, Graton, CA
 

 
91  I  Shannon Ridge $16
2006 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc
An intriguing style of sauvignon, this is as fat as a scallop, with a leesiness that brings toasted rice to mind. The flavors are cool, clean and spicy, balanced for wasabi-spiked sushi. (2,000 cases) (W&S 8/07) Shannon Ridge, Oakville, CA
 

 
91  I  Silverado $16
2005 Napa Valley Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc
With exotic flavors like kumquat or loquat, this finishes clean, with lasting hints of chamomile and ginger. (W&S 4/07) Silverado Vineyards, Napa, CA
 

 
5 French
93  I  Michel Redde $24
2005 Pouilly-Fumé La Moynerie
Quintessential Pouilly-Fumé, this shows the girth typical of these clay-heavy soils, along with a salty, smoky flintiness. Zesty flavors of lime peel and jalapeño are pungent yet balanced and harmonious, lingering with intense fragrance. (W&S 4/07) Kobrand, NY
 

 
93  I  Thomas-Labaille $26
2005 Sancerre Chavignol Les Monts Damnés
With its rich, complex depth and soft wood notes, this isnŐt your typical bistro Sancerre. A dense crescendo of white peach, mandarin orange, sweet pea and sandalwood aromas expand on the palate, firmly tethered by a tight grip of acidity and an intense, piercing minerality. It's a big wine, and should develop further with a few years of age. (W&S 4/07) Louis/Dressner Selections, NY
 

 
91  I  Jean-Paul Balland $28
2004 Sancerre Grande Cuvée
Made from vines more than 40 years old, this is plush for the vintage, showing fleshy apricot and tangerine notes framed by spicy oak. It carries its weight with remarkable grace. (W&S 4/07) Southern Wine & Spirits of New York, Syosset, NY
 

 
91  I  Jean-Paul Balland $19
2005 Sancerre
This feels classic, with racy pink grapefruit notes and sleek, chalky minerality. It maintains that elegant poise all the way through the long finish. (W&S 4/07) Southern Wine & Spirits of New York, Syosset, NY
 

 
91  I  Michel Bailly $19
2004 Pouilly-Fumé Les Loges
This plays racy, sleek grapefruit flavors off a broad, supple texture. It's deep and lively, finishing with a spicy, mineral complexity. (W&S 4/07) Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY