We've been proud to host Chris Pittinger for in-store tastings at Chambers Street Wines over the past several years. A former college baseball player who caught the wine bug, Chris has accumulated significant wine experience as a sommelier in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and on the production side in New Zealand (Kim Crawford and St. Clair), Australia (Torbreck), and California (Robert Biale, Williams Selyem, and Marcassin).
Chris has been the winemaker at Skinner Vineyards in the Sierra Foothills since 2007, working mostly with Rhône varieties. Gros Ventre is a side project that he started in 2009, an homage to the Gros Ventre River in Jackson Hole and also to his then-pregnant wife, Sarah. Gros Ventre initially focused on Pinot Noir from cool climate sites close to the coast or at higher elevation, which were more conducive to intense fruit flavors and higher natural acidity in the grapes.
Chris has maintained close connections with most of the growers and vineyard managers he sources grapes from; after 10 years of working with many growers in El Dorado County for Skinner Vineyards and developing a strong understanding of the region, he recently decided to expand the Gros Ventre line to include some El Dorado wines: a Vermentino and a rosé blended from Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Quite selfishly, Chris admits he drinks more white and rosé in the summer than red, so he thought it was time "to make some fun wines to enjoy during the dog days of summer given that we live in El Dorado as well." In the fall, he will release a Passetoutgrains-styled wine (Gamay/Pinot Noir) and some Gamay Noir sourced from the high-elevation, granitic soils of El Dorado's Barsotti Vineyard (Steve Edmunds from Edmunds St. John also sources grapes from here).
We recently tasted the Vermentino and Rose and, beside their thirst-quenching qualities, they demonstrate a firm structure, pointillistic minerality, and persistent flavor that project the terroir of high-elevation granitic and volcanic soils of the El Dorado AVA. We are proud to offer these wines, as well as his radiant yet robustly flavored Pinot Noirs from Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley today! Jonas Mendoza
Gros Ventre's inaugural white wine! Vermentino co-fermented with a touch of Picpoul Blanc and matured for six months in stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels, this zippy and textural Vermentino entices with ripe Bosc pear and peach aromas, while enveloping the palate with white grapefruit pith, golden apple, and lemon curd flavors. There's an exquisite tension between the wine's fruit forwardness and crunchy minerality. Quite lengthy on the finish! Jonas Mendoza
Gros Ventre inaugurated 2016 with a brand new rosé in their lineup. The pale salmon flesh hue of this Gamay and Pinot Noir blend hides a quite voluptuous wine on the palate with macerated strawberry, strawberry tops, and hibiscus flavors. The granite and volcanic soils the grapes were planted on magnify the texture and juiciness on the palate considerably. Jonas Mendoza
A blend of Pinot Noirs from Campbell Ranch (50%), Baranoff Vineyard (25%), and an undisclosed vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Supple and silky, there is a preponderance of dark brambly fruit on the palate. Quite aromatic, macerated black cherry, kirsch, and violet aromas lead into black raspberry and cherry fruit flavors with hints of freshly rained upon earth. A juicy and elegant California Pinot that's still taut and structured. Jonas Mendoza
Cerise is an organically farmed vineyard using biodynamic methods in Anderson Valley, where the high elevation (approximately 800-1,000 ft.), rocky soils, fogs, and winds produce highly prized Pinot Noir. With prominent high-toned red cherry and raspberry fruits and flowers on the nose, this Pinot Noir rounds out the palate with Bing cherry skin and tart raspberry flavors, with distinct savory, meaty, and peppery undertones. My favorite from Gros Ventre 2013 class, and a serious Pinot in its own right that highlights the brightness and structure of the 2013 vintage. Approximately 150 cases produced. Jonas Mendoza