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Clay Pigeon Winery

Clay Pigeon Winery 2013 Pinot Gris

Pull! Hitting the mark with wine.

In his day job, winemaker Michael Claypool has helped the world’s biggest brands – Disney, Microsoft, Charles Schwab – tell their stories to the public. At Clay Pigeon Winery, he applies his creative brilliance to his winemaking.

Michael takes an experimental approach, questioning the “rules” of winemaking and challenging every assumption. Before starting Clay Pigeon, Michael did it all – working as a cellar rat, a wine retailer, a sommelier, and an assistant winemaker in Sonoma. He came to Portland dreaming of his own urban winery and started in his garage.

Today, Clay Pigeon is an urban winery in Portland with a tasting room and restaurant called Cyril’s. Michael’s partner, Sasha Davies, is a prominent cheesemonger and cheese expert – and Cyril’s is a spot where you can always find great wines paired with extraordinary cheeses. (Despite the usual associations, cheese might be the hardest thing to pair well with wine.)

Why Clay Pigeon rather than the usual eponymous branding? Michael says he just wasn’t “keen on naming the winery after myself”. Shooting clay targets, Michael says, is a lot like winemaking: they’re shot into the air, and it’s your job to hit the mark “while it tries to get away from you.”

Clay Pigeon Winery

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Clay Pigeon Winery, Portland, Oregon
2013 Pinot Gris

We love Pinot Gris here at Cellar 503, but nearly a year in, we’ve never featured one – until now.

Let’s be honest: Too many Pinot Gris wines are good but, well, unmemorable. For Cellar 503, we want to share with you a Pinot Gris that’s particularly interesting and robust. And this Clay Pigeon 2013 Pinot Gris fits the bill!

The first vintage of Pinot Gris from Michael Claypool, it’s true to his experimental streak, with the wine sitting on the lees (the dead yeasties at the bottom of the tank) for a full thirteen months. This approach, more commonly found in Chardonnay, results in a rich mouthfeel and more rounded flavors. Michael also exposed the wine to a small amount of oxygen during the aging process which results in the delightful hints of toasted almond and sherry.

A Cellar 503 selection in November 2015, Thanksgiving Wines Willamette Valley | Pinot Gris