Pinot Grigio: A few euro more gives you a lot more taste

John Wilson: Once you spend more than €10 on this type of wine, quality shoots up

Pinot Grigio is popular because of its refreshing lightness. As a result, it goes well with all sorts of lighter foods associated with summer.

Pinot Grigio is popular because of its refreshing lightness. As a result, it goes well with all sorts of lighter foods associated with summer.

 

Over the past decade or more, wine consumers worldwide have developed an insatiable thirst for Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio, aka Pinot Gris, Grauburgunder or Sivi Pinot, is one of many mutations in the Pinot family of grape varieties. It has a pale greyish skin (hence the name) and the wines sometimes have a pink/copper tinge. It can be used to make rosé wines too.

Most inexpensive Pinot Grigio is what I sometimes call a nothing wine – it doesn’t have too much acidity, alcohol, sweetness, oak, or even flavour, so while you cannot actively love it, how can you dislike a wine that tastes of nothing?

This is being a little unfair as the better examples can have lovely textured pure peach and melon fruits with good acidity. Regions such as Trentino-Alto-Adige, and Friuli produce the finest Pinot Grigio in Italy. Elsewhere, Alsace and Slovenia are also responsible for some excellent examples. But I have to admit that the less expensive versions, served well-chilled on a hot sunny day, can be the perfect summer wine.

Drink Pinot Grigio  as an aperitif or with antipasti, lighter pasta dishes with fresh tomatoes or cream, and all sorts of leafy salads

Pinot Grigio was probably brought from France to Italy through Piemonte, but the vast majority today is found in the northeast of the country. Delle Venezie is one of the best-known wine regions of Italy, famous for the large quantities of Pinot Grigio produced each year, including most of the inexpensive wines that line the shelves of our supermarkets.

More than 200 million bottles are produced annually, accounting for about 70 per cent of all wines from the region. The entire area was promoted from IGT to DOC status in 2017, which means lower yields and, theoretically, at least, better wines. 

I hope you will forgive me for continuing the “for a few euros more” theme, but nowhere does it show more than Pinot Grigio. Once you spend more than €10, quality jumps. I mentioned Alto-Adige and Friuli as good sources of Pinot Grigio, but there are plenty of good examples from the Venezie, including the four wines featured here.

In addition, I have written frequently about the Rizzardi Pinot Grigio (€14.95, O’Briens) and the organic Roberta Fugatti (€15, independents), both well worth trying and great value for money. I would also highly recommend the delicious plump refreshing Pinot Grigio Merlino 2019, Conte Vistarino from Oltrepo Pavese (Whelehan’s, €15, down from €19). As well as the Riff featured here, the family firm of Lageder has the hugely impressive Poler Pinot Grigio (€32) from Alto-Adige. 

Pinot Grigio is popular because of its refreshing lightness. As a result, it goes well with all sorts of lighter foods associated with summer. Drink it as an aperitif, with antipasti, lighter pasta dishes with fresh tomatoes or cream, as well as all sorts of leafy salads.  

Venuglia 2020 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie

12%, €10 down from €15 until Monday
A richer style of Pinot Grigio with very seductive musky ripe peaches and canteloupe balanced by good acidity. A fruit-filled low-alcohol PG that sings of summer. Outstanding value at €10. Drink it by itself, with Italian antipasti, or lightly spicy Asian prawns.
Stockists: O’Briens, obrienswine.ie    

Gregoris 2020, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 

12.5%, €15
A very appealing racy Pinot Gris with crystalline green fruits and grapefruit peel. Drink solo before dinner, with a soft goat’s cheese salad, or prawns al pil pil. 
Stockists: Grapevine, Dalkey, onthegrapevine.ie; Cabot and Co, Westport, Cabotandco.com

La Jarra 2020, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, Organic

12.5%, €15.99
Very moreish zesty crisp green apple fruits and a snappy dry finish; well worth the extra few euros. Perfect with grilled white fish or crab linguini.
Stockists: Martin’s Off Licence, D3, martinsofflicence.ie: Listons, D2, listonsfoodstore.ie; The NudeWineCompany.ie; Caviston’s, Glasthule.   

Riff 2020 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, Alois Lageder Organic

12.5%, €16.95
Delicate herbal aromas, light refreshing green apple fruits with plenty of zesty citrus. A stylish aperitif or serve it with summery salads. 
Stockists: Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Deveney’s, D14, Deveneys.ie; McHughs, D5, mchughs.ie: Cappagh Stores, Galway.

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