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The rapid rise in popularity of Pinot Grigio in the US says a lot about the evolution of American taste in wine varietals. The movement away from Chardonnay was inevitable after this grape became expressed in ponderous wooded styles. The resulting gravitation to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio have brought about a welcome change with Chardonnay producers towards lighter and crisper wines that refresh instead of overwhelm. Lesser known varietals such as Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Albarino, Marsanne and Rousanne have benefited from the desire to break away. You might say even Roses have moved back in the collective consciousness, as well, as a result. So, let’s try some Pinot Grigios from Italy and compare them to others from California…
2007 Salmon Creek Pinot Grigio, California
This winery makes a delicately and refreshingly crisp Pinot Grigio with nuances of peach, melon, and mint. It is an amiable quaff to be served very cold on a hot day. The wine is straw colored with green highlights. The bouquet is floral with hints of pear. Befitting a proper Pinot Grigio, the wine is dry and of good body. The aroma is replicated in the flavor profile and finishes most pleasantly.
2006 Voga Pinot Grigio, Venezie
The unique and trendy bottle delivers a soft and rich, crisp wine with fresh, ripe apple and pear aromas and delicious, juicy flavors.
2006 Mont St. John Pinot Grigio, Madonna Estate, Carneros
Years ago this property produced one of the best Petite Sirahs made in California from a very old vineyard. Unfortunately, they couldn’t show a profit and replaced the vines with Pinot Noir which did show a profit. Also planted were the grapes for this versatile wine which is both complex and interesting, and has delightfully fresh, fruity aromas. It displays wonderful nuances of melon and pear that mingle on the palate and has a clean, crisp finish. Still, I miss the Petite Sirah.
2006 Luna Vineyards Pinot Grigio, Napa
Uncork and enjoy a wonderfully expressive nose of pear, peach and apricot. This is a delicious wine with a forward surge of lemon zest and pine nut flavors. On the palate, there are flavors of citrus, fig, pear, pineapple and a faint underlying hint of oak. Barrel fermentation begot a full body to the entire mid-palate. Notes of honeysuckle and orange marmalade close out the finish.
2006 Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio, Trentino
The grapes for this wine come from an old vine, low yield vineyard in the Dolomite Alps north of Lake Garda. The wine is exceptionally fragrant with intense aromas not usual for a Pinot Grigio. The flavors are pear toned and backed with perfect acidity for service as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to food.
2006 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, “Valdadige”
Nearly 30 years ago, importer Tony Terlato discovered this company’s wine and built it into the number one imported Pinot Grigio in the US as well as the number one Pinot Grigio served in restaurants. This wine of the Alto Adige has a clean and intense aroma, is medium bodied and has flavors of golden apples and minerals. It is clean with a fresh crisp character and firm structure.