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James Rahn Wine 2019 Pinot Gris

Try the newbies!

James Rahn is one busy guy. In two years, he transitioned from running the wine program at a well-known downtown restaurant to planting a vineyard and turning a horse barn into a winery at Abbey Road. It’s a gorgeous and unique destination with a beautifully-crafted winery in Carlton. Still focused on unusual varietals, you’ll only find one Pinot Noir on the tasting room line-up and the Pinot Gris is a red one!

When I asked him if he considered himself a “natural wine” winemaker, he laughed. Yes, he believes himself to be making wine in the most natural way he can but he doesn’t like the trappings – or the confusion – behind the “natural wine” label. He greatly admires the winemakers in Oregon who are pioneers of the movement but would rather be known simply as a good winemaker.

For two decades, James has pushed well-known restaurants around the country to “try newbies!” – wines they may not have tried before from small producers. As he says, those small winemakers “have a vision that comes from managing a 100-case production rather than a 100,000-case production, so that’s their baby. And that wine, for better or worse, has more personality than the majority of large-production wines. I believe that wholeheartedly.” We agree!

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

James Rahn Wine, Portland, Oregon
2019 Pinot Gris

Yes, this is a red wine!

I know, it’ll blow your mind, but Pinot Gris grapes actually have red skins. Very few winemakers use the skins, they just immediately press out the juice and let it ferment as a white wine. But in the hands of skilled winemakers like James, these grapes can turn out one extraordinary red wine.

These grapes came from Dion Vineyard – another one of our winery partners – from vines planted in the early 1970s. Dion is in the newly named Laurelwood AVA—our first wine from this new AVA! Aged in neutral oak barrels, this wine can be served at just about any temperature, but we prefer it at cellar temp, slightly chilled.

You’ll still find the traditional fruity flavors of Pinot Gris like lemon, yellow apple, and white peach but you’ll enjoy a unique earthiness from the extended skin contact.

This is a delicious wine that will engage your brain as much as your taste buds!

A Cellar 503 selection in September 2020, Unusual Varietals Laurelwood | Pinot Gris