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The Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Grape

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About Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

(Synonyms: Auxerrois gris, Fauvet, Fromentau, Fromentot, Grauburgunder, Grauer Burgunder, Grauer Mönch, Grauklevner, Gris cordelier, Malvoisie, Monemvasia, Pinot grigio, Pinot beurot, Ruländer, Rulandské šedé, Sivi pinot, Szürkebarát, Tokay d'Alsace)


Pinot Gris grapes Map showing the Burgundy region of France

Pinot Gris, also widely known by its Italian name of Pinot Grigio (both Gris and Grigio meaning "grey") is a white-wine grape originating in the Burgundy region of France. Though it is the basically same grape under both names (there may be slightly differing clones), the stylings associated with each name are somewhat different, as we will soon see. The grape is another of the several mutations from Pinot Noir, which is famously unstable genetically; as a recognized variety, it goes back to the early middle ages (by 1300, it had already travelled to Switzerland).

Both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are today widely grown across the wine-producing world, producing oceans of bland, indistinguishable plonk and the occasional bottling of more interest. To many casual wine drinkers, "pinot grigio" has become a loose synonym for any vague white wine. That is a shame, because the grape, treated with care, can do much better.

The "Pinot Gris" styling of the grape tends at its best toward a characteristically Alsatian round, fairly rich, almost creamy style, wherein the acidity is not dominant and the alcohol is not low. The "Pinot Grigio" styling, conversely, emphasizes acidity and crispness, has a bit more alcohol, and is generally "leaner" and less fruit-forward than the Alsatian style. Neither is inherently better than the other: they simply fill different niches. It is best to consider them as almost two different wine types; and the name under which the wine is marketed is usually a reliable clue to its style.

In the U.S., it is the "Pinot Grigio" style that accounts for most of the dire plonk; wines labelled "Pinot Gris" are not thereby automatically better, but because that is not the more faddy name, you have better odds. As you will see below, the majority of introductory material about this grape tends to be aimed at folk who recognize it as "Pinot Grigio".

(The grape is also fairly widely known in Germany under the synonym "Ruländer"; that use usually—though not invariably—denotes a sweet wine.)

Factoid: The grape was reportedly a favorite of the Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings imported to Hungary by Cistercian monks: the brothers planted the vines on the slopes of Badacsony bordering Lake Balaton in 1375. The vine soon after developed the name Szürkebarát meaning "grey monk".

Some Descriptions of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Pinot gris is grown across the globe with the 'spicy' full-bodied Alsatian and lighter-bodied, more acidic Italian styles being most widely recognized. The Alsatian style, often duplicated in New World wine regions such as Marlborough [New Zealand], Tasmania, Australia, Washington, and Oregon, tend to have moderate to low acidity, higher alcohol levels and an almost "oily" texture that contributes to the full-bodied nature of the wine. The flavors can range from ripe tropical fruit notes of melon and mango to some botrytis-influenced flavors. In Italy, Pinot grigio grapes are often harvested early to retain the refreshing acidity and minimize some of the overt-fruitiness of the variety, creating a more neutral flavor profile. This style is often imitated in other Old World wine regions, such as Germany where the grape is known as Ruländer. . . Wines made from the Pinot gris vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine making style they are from. Alsatian Pinot gris are medium to full bodied wines with a rich, somewhat floral bouquet. They tend to be spicy in comparisons with other Pinot gris. While most Pinot gris are meant to be consumed early, Alsatian Pinot gris can age well. German Pinot gris are more full-bodied with a balance of acidity and slight sweetness. In Oregon the wines are medium bodied with a yellow to copper-pink color and aromas of pear, apple, and/or melon. In California, the Pinot gris are more light bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste with some pepper and arugula notes. The Pinot grigio style of Italy is a light-bodied, often lean wine that is light in color with sometimes spritzy flavors that can be crisp and acidic. Pinot gris is considered an "early to market wine" that can be bottled and out on the market within 4–12 weeks after fermentation"

  • Lettie Taegue, Food and Wine

    "In general, Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied, high-acid, delicate white, although the top producers turn out wines that have more of everything: more intense aromas, flavor and weight—though no Pinot Grigio is ever as rich and full-bodied as a Pinot Gris, the French wine made with the same grape. Yet the Italians dominate by virtue of amount: There's a lot more Grigio than Gris. This is one of the problems of Pinot Grigio, as a wine produced in mass quantities is by definition of little interest to connoisseurs. . . Then there's the matter of all those truly "innocuous" and "uninteresting" wines. How many are there? Well, in the course of one month I probably tasted close to 60 Pinot Grigios and found that two-thirds could be described using those words. On the other hand, the other one-third of the wines were actually quite good."

  • Wine Folly

    "The primary fruit flavors in Pinot Grigio are lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine and apple. Depending on where the grapes are grown, Pinot Grigio can take on faint honeyed notes; floral aromas like honeysuckle; and a saline-like minerality. Pinot Grigio doesn’t have a strikingly unique flavor the way Moscato or Riesling do, but it does offer a refreshing twinkle of acidity and a weighty feeling on the middle of your tongue – like licking wax paper. Stump the Sommelier Pinot Gris is a commonly feared grape variety in Sommelier Blind-Tasting Exams. Many wine experts identify Pinot Gris through the characteristics it doesn’t have.

    • Italian Pinot Grigio Usually totally dry with brilliant acidity with a bitter almond note.

    • French Pinot Gris Fleshy and more unctuous with faint honey notes from botrytis.

    • American Pinot Grigio Often with more exaggerated fruit flavors and with less acidity than European counterparts.

    Pinot Grigio often tastes less sweet than Chardonnay because of high acidity. There are two examples where Pinot Grigio is sweet. One example is cheap supermarket Pinot Grigio designed to woo mid-week wine drinkers. The second (and considerably more rare) are the slightly sweet Pinot Gris from Alsace. "

  • Total Wine

    "Most Pinot Grigio is dry with fruit flavors of pear and apple with hints of lemon and mineral. They range from light to medium body and should be consumed when they are fresh and young. Pinot Grigio is the same grape as Pinot Gris, which is grown in a medium-bodied style in Alsace, California and Oregon. .  It is important to understand that although Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape, they are capable of producing a variety of white wines in a number of different winegrowing areas. The lesser expensive Pinot Grigio produced throughout Italy is a nice, crisp and dry wine with a neutral flavor. As the price increases with Italian Pinot Grigio, so does the body and flavors of the wines. At their best, they contain wonderfully crisp acidity, complemented by loads of citrus fruit flavors. Impressive hints of mineral add dimension to the refreshing long finish. The best Pinot Grigio is produced in the northern area of Italy, benefiting from the cooler climate. The Pinot Gris of Alsace and Oregon are wonderfully crisp as well, but are fuller bodied and more aromatic. Along with an abundance of citrus fruit, Pinot Gris offers additional complex flavors of tree fruits and even hints of almond. This is mostly to do with the soil and climate in which they are grown."

  • Stacy Slinkard, about.com

    "Pinot Grigio flavors can range from melon to pear and some even offer a subtle tropical or citrus fruit, often there is a honey or smoky flavor component as well. As for color, Pinot Grigio is typically a pale, straw-like yellow with some golden hues thrown in. The texture of a Pinot Grigio is worth noting, as it has very smooth, almost silk-like overtones that leave an impression on the palate. "

  • Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW, TheKitchn

    "Personally, I find these [desireable] qualities most prevalent in the Pinot Grigio wines from Alto Adige in Northern Italy, where the wines show great purity, and are delicately aromatic with great intensity and depth of flavor. As for the Pinot Gris style, I am truly an ardent Alsace fan. Alsace Pinot Gris wines show incredible richness, breadth across the palate, earthy minerality and terroir. Outside the motherland, I have also come to really love Oregon Pinot Gris, which in many ways combines the richness and texture of the Alsace style with the more vibrant fruitiness of the Italy style."

  • Wine Searcher

    "Flavors and aromas vary greatly from region to region, and from style to style, but commonly feature notes of pears, apples, stone fruit, sweet spices and even a hint of smoke or wet wool. Most winemakers avoid obvious oak character in their Pinot Gris, but some use older barrels (which leave less oak flavor in the wine) for fermentation. For weightier, more complex styles of Pinot Gris, lees contact and partial malolactic fermentation are commonly used. .  Pinot Gris grapes are naturally low in acidity and high in sugars, so the finest Pinot Gris wines come from the world's cooler viticultural regions; those from warmer climates tend to lack acidity and structure and can be overbearingly alcoholic. Europe's showcase examples come from vineyards on either side of the Rhine river, from Baden and Pfalz in Germany and particularly Alsace in France. . . Of the 'New World' wine regions, the variety is doing well in the United States (most notably Oregon but also Washington and California) and New Zealand. New World producers have recognized and respected the distinction between the Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio styles, and typically label their wines accordingly (lighter, drier versions as Pinot Grigio, while sweeter or richer styles as Pinot Gris)."

  • Cal-Italia

    "[Pinot Grigio] Pale, straw-yellow or very light copper in color with a bright and flowery fragrance. Firm acidity gives Pinot Grigio a mouth watering appeal. Generally offers nice mid-palate balance with a short, clean finish. Another one to drink young, young, young!"

  • wineaccess

    "[Pinot Gris] At its best, in Alsace, where it's usually called Tokay Pinot Gris, the wines are extremely rich and honeyed, in either a dry, or just off-dry style. Characteristic flavors include peach, apricots, tropical fruits, and spices. In Oregon, Pinot Gris is usually dry, with few examples seeing much in the way of oak. Alsace Pinot Gris: The third grape in Alsace's holy trinity, Pinot Gris is far more likely to produce a fat, oily, even viscous wine than a racy, high-pitched drink. Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio), is characterized by rather exotic aromas and flavors of peach and apricot, tropical fruits, orange peel, butter, nut oil, smoked meat, spices, earth, and honey. As with Geurztraminer, traditional versions of Pinot Grigio are reminiscent of ripe Chardonnay. In the hands of some producers, they are among the richest white wines of France. Pinot Gris is a versatile food wine well matches to the rich cuisine of the region -- it's frequently paired not only with pates and foie gras, rich fish prepartations and white meats, but even with red meat dishes. Oregon Pinot Gris: Outside of the cool, hilly Alto Adige region of northeast Italy, no other region produces as many fresh, elegant examples of Pinot Gris (called Pinot Grigio in Italy) as Oregon. Unlike the weightier, spicier, and more flamboyantly ripe examples from Alsace, Oregon Pinot Gris is usually fermented to complete dryness, and few examples see much in the way of oak. Instead, the top producers make brisk, highly aromatic, light-to medium-bodied wines that emphasize clean orchard fruits such as apple, pear, and peach, often with citrus elements as well. These wines are normally best consumed within a couple years of the vintage for their fresh fruit; they are excellent choices with a range of warm-weather fare and go especially well with light, fresh seafood preparations. Pinot Gris rather than Chardonnay is the flagship white wine for many Oregon producers -- a smart move in light of the popularity of these wines."

  • wine.com

    "While Pinot Grigio is in fact the same grape as Pinot Gris (just the Italian take on it), the differences of wine they create can be immense. Pinot Gris' most popular and successful region is Alsace, France, an area of the country that actually puts the name of the grape on the label. Pinot Grigio is the Italian version of the grape, known for its light, crisp acidity. But wines from other regions usually term their wine Pinot Gris or Grigio based on the wine's flavor profile. Pinot Gris from Alsace creates rich, stone fruit-laden wines. They are perfumed and aromatic, and typically dry. It has round body and medium acidity. Take the grape a bit south to Italy, and it creates a very crisp, high-acid, citrus noted wine. Both are flavorful, but wine named Pinot Gris typically provides more body and rounder fruits while Pinot Grigio gives lighter-bodied, citrus fruits. Oregon and California are also growing the grape, Oregon having success with a more Alsacian style and California producing both. Winemakers often call the wine by the style they wish to replicate - for Italian style, look for Pinot Grigio, for the Alsacian style, look for Pinot Gris. . . Common Descriptors: peach, pear, floral, citrus."

  • Wine Spectator

    "Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are identical in the sense that they are made from the same grape. But there is a big difference in the spectrum of styles that can be made from this grape. Pinot Gris from the Alsace region of France is typically rich and often sweet, with rich, spicy tropical fruit aromas. Pinot Grigio in northeastern Italy shows a lighter, crisp, clean and vibrant expression of the grape, with citrus flavors. Outside of these specific areas, the name vintners will use on the label is mostly a stylistic decision (as with naming a wine Syrah or Shiraz when it comes from neither France nor Australia), so they will usually select the name that best fits the style they're going for, Alsatian or Italian."

Some Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio to Try

(About this list.)

The problem here is winnowing down the list. Numerous wine writers propose Gris/Grigio bottlings that, they assure us, are superior to the tidal wave of goop. But it is not common to find the same wines on any two lists (a good sign: there are probably more good ones than it might seem). We have tried to find what sem as close to consensus picks as feasible.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.

Pinot Gris

  • Willow Crest Pinot Gris, $11 - $15.
    (Washington, Yakima Valley)

    Some quotations and facts:

    [2010 vintage] A strong spice scent comes with a hint of vanilla bean. Fruit flavors of lime and fresh-cut pear are framed by an underlying minerality. As always with Willow Crest Pinot Gris, there is good penetration and length. 89 points.

    [2009 vintage] Estate-grown from some of the oldest Pinot Gris vines in Washington, this Yakima Valley bottling highlights fresh herbs and sharp, juicy pear and apple fruit flavors. The vivid fruit is racy and tightly defined, and seems to gather strength and focus as it sits in the mouth. A splendid effort that really sets the standard for Washington Pinot Gris. 90 points.

    [2005 vintage] This is the winery’s best white, and a standout Pinot Gris for Washington. You’ll find more pear than apple flavor here, with light melon also. The wine feels and tastes of lees, and plenty of crisp skin tannins that put a clean edge on it. Nothing fancy, just well-ripened fruit and clean winemaking. 88 points.

    ♣ San Antonio Wine Competition (27 January 2012), Best of Show - white wine.

    Clear, yellow straw in color, the 2010 Estate Pinot Gris opens up with intense aromas of Bosque pear, fresh melon, tangerine and vanilla flower. The palate is rich and textured with a creamy mid-palate and a bright, focused acidity that carries the fruit from start to end. Tangerine, grapefruit oil and cantaloupe flavors persist on a pleasant and defined finish.

    It’s very rare that you’ll stumble across single-vineyard, “estate-grown” wines for under $15, but if you do, you should jump at the chance to pickup a bottle! The simple reason is that the more specific a wine gets (with its place of origin), the more expensive it usually gets. Not with Willow Crest though, as most of their wines completely annihilate the competition in the price-to-quality ratio game. . . The Willow Crest Pinot Gris is clean and crisp, but also bolder than most Pinot Gris from neighboring Oregon, at least that I’ve tasted. Beautifully fragrant (we could even smell it against the breeze from the ocean), the wine opens with cantaloupe, grapefruit, passion-fruit and guava. Medium-bodied, rich, and with a good acid balance, the wine evolves into citrusy blood orange and grapefruit on the long finish. The absolute best Pinot Gris for the money that I’ve tasted coming out of Washington.

    His fruit made for a gorgeous nose of dusty lemon, melon, fresh butterscotch, a whiff of petrol and herbs de Provence. There’s a melange of flavors that ranges from Red Delicious apple, pineapple and melon. Its dry finish comes with a fun hint of tutti frutti. Rating: Excellent

    The 2009 Willow Crest Estate Grown Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley is a beautiful rendition of this grape at a ridiculously low price. It has a hint of that brassy color that I really dig in Pinot Gris. The nose is alive with notes of orange peel, cardamom, sweet thyme and ripe apricot. The flavors on the palate mimic the nose with the ripe apricot leading the way. Fantastic viscosity and juicy acidity that makes your mouth scream for another sip. A great value in the $12 range.

    Estate-grown, with vivid, juicy, pear and apple flavors. Racy and tightly defined, this really sets the standard for Washington pinot gris.

    Orange and lime are the first aromas blending into grapefruit and nectarine that continue and delight the tongue. The balanced acidity finishes out with mineral, orange and melon.

    This delicious and affordable white wine offers aromas of spices, peaches, apples, minerals and grapefruits, along with a complex note of nuttiness and flowers. On the palate, it reveals flavors that reminded us of applesauce and peaches.

    The Willow Crest 2010 Pinot Gris, from Washington’s Yakima Valley, is nicely textured and flavorful with a richer mouth-feel. On the palate, tree fruit (pear, apple) comingle with melon and orange peel in this medium-bodied and well-balanced wine.

    The Pinot Gris from Willow Crest is true to type with lots of cool minerality and at a very reasonable price, too.

    For an equally delicious local offering, grab Willow Crest's 2009 Pinot Gris. This is estate-grown from some of the oldest Pinot Gris vines in Washington, with vivid fruit flavors of pear and apple, emphasized with racy acidity.

    Snappy and a bit spritzy with citrus and juicy flavors with good acidity; long and clean. 87 points.

    Spicy and bursting with lime and fresh-cut pear, the estate-grown fruit displays a refreshing minerality.

  • Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Gris, $13 - $20.
    (Oregon, Willamette Valley)
         ($19.44 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Star bright pale gold in color. Perfectly ripened stone fruit on the nose. Supporting lime on the palate. Low-medium acidity makes it enjoyably non-bracing. Finishes very dry especially given then generous nose. Solid. 88 points.

    Second-generation winemaker Luisa Ponzi links this vintage to those from 2002 and 2006 for its acidity. Aromas feature whiffs of grapefruit, lemon/lime, apple, gooseberry, fresh-sliced strawberries and wet stone. Honeydew melon and sugared lime make it delicately sweet on the palate, backed by citrusy acidity.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (September 2013) 90 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (October 2013) 89 points.

    Ponzi thinks that the presence of old vines from her family’s estate vineyards is responsible for the flattering sense of textural creaminess to her 2012 Pinot Gris, reflecting an endearing potential of this grape variety that unfortunately rarely comes out in Oregonian renditions. (There was a small bit of malolactic on the 2011 but not here, so the creaminess has nothing to do with that.) Most of the non-estate fruit comes from the new winery’s northern Chehalem Mountains sector, but some also from the Eola Hills. Juicy pear, peach and apple are tinged with brown spices – along with citrus rind, peach kernel and pear pip that lend ping to the finish – and there is a disarming sense of buoyancy even at 13.3% alcohol. Plan to savor this fine value over the next 2-3 years.

    [T]he Ponzis had early success with Pinot Gris, which they first planted in 1978, and which soon became the region's signature white. It was a variety they'd fallen for when they visited Alsace, and which would achieve fame in the '80s under its Italian name of Pinot Grigio. As the 20th anniversary of Ponzi's first vintage approached, Oregon had claimed a place on the world wine map, and Ponzi Vineyards was arguably the region's brightest star.

    Fresh and lively, with a distinct ginger root character weaving through the lime and pear fruit, finishing with snap and expression.

    The Ponzis know a thing or two about this variety, having planted their first Pinot Gris vines in 1978. Second-generation winemaker Luisa Ponzi has crafted a delicious white wine with aromas of fruit salad, dandelion blossoms, apple and orange oil. On the palate, it offers juicy flavors of pear, apricot, pineapple and pear, as well as something that reminded us of lemon chiffon. Nice acidity makes this a great pairing with scallops, halibut or grilled tofu.

    This pinot gris from Oregon happened to be on the table at the same time, and it too was a lithe, bright, fruity and prickly refreshment, so good I felt it certainly deserved its own small post. And here it is.

    Ponzi, one of Oregon’s most respected wineries, makes textbook Pinot Gris. That means fresh nectarine and white peach flavors and zesty acidity.

  • Eyrie Vineyards "Original Vines" Dundee Hills Pinot Gris, $15 - $30 (more for library vintages).
    (Oregon, Willamette Valley; don't confuse this with their standard PG bottling.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    The grapes used for this wine are from the original vines, planted almost 50 years ago by David Lett. Rich, sleek and textural, this thrilling effort sets a new standard for Oregon Pinot Gris. Grassy notes are married to lush citrus and apple fruit. The flavors go deep and long, the finish is immaculate and brings a palate-refreshing minerality. 93 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate: August 2012, 90 points; October 2013, 90 points.

    A lovely meld of peach and lemon, green herbs and brown spices (reminiscent of cinnamon basil) characterizes Eyrie's 2010 Pinot Gris, which, as usual here, initially underwent several hours of skin contact in the press, and like its Pinot Blanc counterpart underwent malo and a long stay on the lees in tank that result in flattering creaminess without any sacrifice of vivacity or primary juiciness. Predictably, there is a bit more grip here than in its blanc sibling, with piquant peach kernel and a smoky aura extending the finish. But the same lovely sense of levity (here at 12.6% alcohol) prevails. Even allowing some leeway for distributor mark-ups that might lift its retail price above that charged at the cellar-door, this represents one sensational value, singular for its genre and almost certain (for any few who care to test my prognosis) to remain deliciously versatile for another 8-10 years.

    Rather than the hard malic tartness that hampers so many of its genre, Eyrie’s 2011 Pinot Gris – which, as usual, underwent complete malo-lactic conversion and enjoyed considerable lees contact – exhibits bright citricity allied to cyanic peach kernel and apple pip that make for an invigorating as well as refreshing performance, yet evinces a hint of textural allure apt to blossom into a creamy patina over the next couple of years. And while there is an overt sense of density on display, it’s allied to levity. This outstanding value is likely – based on considerable track record – to drink well through at least 2020.

    The color is dark yellow, and the nose and palate are creamy and spicy, with notes of licorice, fennel and buttercups. Lett achieved this distinctive style by aging his gris in a massive (the size of 10 typical barrels) neutral oak "tun" for 11 months, and letting it rest on the lees for a year. All the while, the wine went through a slow malolactic fermentation -- the process that makes many chardonnays so creamy. (Curiously, my tasting notes said, "Tastes like a flat Champagne." When I followed up with Lett, he informed me that he had inoculated his juice with Champagne yeast.) He did not add sulfur or cold-stabilize, as is standard, so keep it in a cool, dark place until you open it, and if you find crystals at the bottom of your glass, you've been warned. That said, Michael Alberty at Storyteller Wine Co. swears to me that it gets better if you leave it open on the counter for four to six days. Whatever you think about it, you have to admire Lett for thinking outside the box when it comes to pinot gris.

    The wine evolves in the glass. At first opening it offers the tang of carrots and tomato leaf fresh from the garden, an herbal lifted nose and palate. The wine uncurls over the course of the day–lofted, fresh aromas, apricot and plum, just cut button roses, bread with light honey lifting from the glass. The palate moves as well. There is a stimulating vitamin buzz through the mouth carrying into a long soil and saline finish. The flavors offer lilies with their greens, fresh bread and grain with hints of butter, and the groundedness of coffee. The overall presentation is fresh, delicate while lively. I admire this wine both for its history and for its interest. ***

    Pinot Gris 2012, from 50-year-old ungrafted vines. Very clear wines, almost ready. . . The first time they bottled this tiny parcel of old pinot gris was last year and there was this very distinctive nose of crushed herbs and he's happy it's back in 2012. The mouth is very classy too, I find, that's very nice. . . He says that the 2012 has more tropical notes when the 2011 was more on the steely side. But they like the vintage to reflect in the wines [2011 was much cooler and rainy than 2012].

  • Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Pinot Gris, $15 - $22.
    (France, Alsace)

    Some quotations and facts:

    The aroma is a swirl of sweet citrus, honeydew, apricot and fragrant white flowers. It’s medium-bodied, creamy and a tad oily up front, with a slightly sour and acidic finish. I even got a taste of metal and smoke on the palate. It’s not lip-smacking dry, but instead an off-dry to dry feel. After a few sips, the complexity and sophistication of this pinot gris kept me intrigued and interested.

    Bright yellow in color with a greenish tint, this elegant wine from France’s Alsace region smells like lemon tart and green melon with wet stone in the background. I like how the bright citrus flavors of orange zest and pink grapefruit jump out initially, and then stand aside for the mellower flavors of peaches and quince. There is also a hint of smoky spiciness which pairs well with the mild curry flavors in Greg’s [curried mussels a la Jean-Georges]. Yet the wine is not too heavy, which is important when served with the fairly delicate flavors of steamed mmussels, and the wine’s silky texture accompanies the slight creaminess found in the broth.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 92 points.

    Finely knit, with a vibrancy to the refined acidity that focuses the flavors of ripe peach, pear, guava and kumquat. Silky in texture, with a core of smoky minerality that pushes through on the lasting finish. 92 points; #39 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2012.

    Earthy apple and quince notes, white peach and hints of smoke and lemon are the first aromas to hit you. That lovely mouthfeel is still there however, this time rich and even a bit chalky. The primary flavors when tasting are similar to the bouquet with perhaps a bit more smoke coming through and lasting all the way through to the long finish. What's interesting is that many times a wine with a thick mouthfeel like this would be very sweet, but that's not the case here. And . . lovely mineral notes add intrigue. A wine that just gets better and better with every sip. Taste Rating: 9; Cost Rating: 5; Overall Rating: 8.0. Recommended Buy.

    This dry style of Pinot Gris has a rich character, which allows the spice to come through strongly—the acidity lingering behind. Flavors of tropical fruits are allied to the smooth, ripe finish. 88 points.

    Slightly muted nose is quite fresh with some varietal character (rounded, smoky bacon). Nice, rich fat-textured palate is quite pure with some minerality. The richness is nicely balanced by the acidity. Very good+

    [Google-translaed from French:] a Pinot Gris intense and complex, with a wide range of flavors, which show particular quince, licorice and smoke button. This is a bottle to drink in 3 or 4 years.

    Light yellow with straw reflections in the glass, earthy scents and a hint of fruitiness on the nose, good structure, flavors of quince, white flesh fruit and a hint of lemon on the palate, good acidity.

  • Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve, $15 - $25.
    (France, Alsace; there is also a "Reserve Personelle", which is a bit more upscale.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    I’ve been a long-time fan of Trimbach. There is something about a winery who consistently delivers for each one of their wines (I’ve had their entry-level Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris) that makes it worth braving the the North-of-$15 price range [my readers] usually stay under. When I was first reading up on wine in my early days of wine-nerd development, The Wine Bible and Wine for Dummies both mentioned Trimbach as a reliable Alsatian producer for white wines characteristic of the area. After drinking lots of Trimbach from different varietals and vintages, I can echo this praise. This particular bottle delivers classic Alsace Pinot Gris profile: spice and expressive, fresh orange peel on the nose followed by a full, dry, palate of ripe peach and apricot (7g residual sugar, which is a lot!) harnessed with gripping acidity to balance off the austere, lingering finish. I recently had it with Cambodian food and it found my entire table singing praises for this Pinot Gris upon their first few sips. Grab it for springtime satisfaction!

    With its rich fruit and savory flavors, this wine screams fall. Trimbach's Reserve Pinot Gris is full-bodied, with incredible richness and breadth across the palate. Enticingly spicy, it has stone fruit aromas with hints of honey and smoke. The flavors are fresh and broad with intense, rich, apricot and guava fruit, followed by an earthy minerality, and a long spicy finish. The richness of this Pinot Gris works with heartier fare.

    ♣ Wine Advocate: 2008 vintage, 92 points; 2005 vintage, 89 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (2008 vintage), 92 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (1999 vintage), 88 points.

    The Trimbach 2008 Pinot Gris Reserve delivers an exhilarating sense of sheer primary fruit juiciness (suggesting peach, blood orange, and grapefruit) that you will scarcely encounter from its grape outside of the 2008 vintage. What’s more the sheer density and penetration rival the performance of the corresponding Rieslings, but at the same time, this wine’s glycerin-richness and succulent sense of ripeness make it altogether more winsome and luscious today than its Riesling counterparts. Pungency of citrus peel and black tea smokiness add to the intrigue of a finish that compels the next sip. It’s hard to imagine (at the anticipated retail price of this release) a much more exceptional value in versatile Alsace Pinot Gris.

    Snappy acidity and a mineral streak focus the green pear, apple, white peach and fleur de sel flavors in this lithe wine.

    Appearance: Medium Gold with thick, persistent legs. Nose: Pear, apple, tangerine, maybe a little wood. On the palate: Full bodied. Like an annoying country music group: Big and rich. Pear, apple, and lavender. As it warms, citron, orange and the tangerine again. Finish: Light, sweet, and citric. Lingers on the tongue and in the nose for what seems like an hour. Parting Words: What can I say, this is an excellent wine. Pinot Gris is one of the specialties of Alsace and Trimbach knows how to put it together. Even at six years of age, this wine is vibrant, rich, and deep. I wish I had more to say about this fantastic wine, but it has rendered me speechless. Highly recommended.

    We had a guest to stay the other weekend. He wouldn’t profess himself a wine expert, but he’s no neophyte either: many years ago, before the financial pressure of kids, he treated himself to a horizontal of all the 1983 First Growth Bordeaux. Anyway, we poured from an open bottle [of this wine] after he arrived, and it only took him a sip or two to sit back, stare at the glass in wonderment and announce: “This may be the finest white wine I’ve ever tasted.” Which is interesting, because I had had a similar reaction – both with this bottle and with my introduction to Alsace Pinot Gris. .  This Reserve from the Ribeauville area, bottled by the respected merchant house Trimbach, was a vibrant golden color in the glass, with a delicate and relatively muted nose of almonds and lemons. It was only on the palate that the wine truly – though still subtly – expressed itself: Vaguely smokey, notably honeyed, there was a touch of orange, some marzipan, maybe some apricot, and an abundance of elegance, grace and class. If Pinot Grigio is indeed the new Chardonnay, then think of Alsace Pinot Gris as the equivalent of a high-quality Burgundy. At a fraction of the price. [And] yes these are ludicrously under-priced wines.

    A pinot gris benchmark wine with stylish aromas and flavors of white peach, fresh apricot, pear, lemon, and limestone. Perfectly balanced citrus and mineral finish.

    Our top rated wines, however, were from Alsace, where Pinot Gris is one of several white grapes vinified there along with Riesling, Sylvaner, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Muscat, occasionally combined in blends. The No. 1 rating went to 2005 Trimbach Pinot Gris Private Reserve. Although labeled "reserve" it is in fact Trimbach's basic Pinot Gris bottling; their premium label is Reserve Personnelle ($35), not included in this tasting.

  • Lucien Albrecht Cuvee Romanus Pinot Gris, $14 - $20.
    (France, Alsace)

    Some quotations and facts:

    The highly regarded family firm of Albrecht, now in its ninth generation of farming grapes and making wine, honors its founder, Romanus Albrecht, by naming this vineyard after him. It is an apt tribute, for the wine is both typical of Alsace and of Albrecht: sturdy, deep golden, capable of age and development, with bright apple and peach fruit in its youth that slowly changes to the richer, toothier tang of winter apples with the whisper of autumnal spices.

    With pink hints from the skins of the Pinot Gris this wine has honey and canned apricot syrup flavors. The spice and acidity complement each other at the end of this attractive wine. 88 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 87 points.

    Albrecht's 2008 Pinot Gris Romanus both smells and tastes delightfully of lightly-salted peaches and vanilla cream. While the palate impression is rather loose, it retains attractive juiciness to complement its suggestions of creaminess and its ripeness of fruit. Hints of musk, moss, and lightly-toasted cashew characterize a refreshing, clear, and virtually-dry finish. I would recommend enjoying this in its youth, although I am sure it will keep well enough for at least 3-4 years.

    The Pinot Gris had a more complex nose [than the Pinot Blanc], with pears, white peaches, faint green apples, and a hint of lemon. On the tongue, it was tart, with green apples, citrus, grapefruit, unripe peaches, and tropical fruits. It had a medium-long finish with nice evolution, showing a hint of minerality, green fruits, ending with flavors of a ripe, juicy, orange.

    Bright pale golden color. This Pinot Gris is a rich, powerful wine with aromas of grapefruit, peach and some lovely mineral notes. On the palate the wine is rich yet dry focused on mineral flavors, citrus fruits and spice. Creamy and velvety wine with a soft finish showing up elegance and balance for such a rich white wine.

    For six centuries, the Albrecht family has been making wine in Alsace, so they know a thing or two about pinot gris. Their 2010 Lucien Albrecht Pinot Gris Cuvée Romanus from Alsace is one of the most well-known white wines from that region. The intense bouquet explodes with scents of white flowers, juicy stone fruits and wet stone. This extraordinarily easy-drinking wine emphasizes flavors of nectarine, white peach and melon highlighted by abundant acidity. Citrus notes provide a tangy and refreshing finish.

    Transparent straw color. Limes and honeydew melons, fresh and snappy aromas and flavors, with delicate notes of orange blossom and mint on the nose and a fine "rainwater over rocks" minerality on the palate. A slight touch of sweetness is nicely balanced by mouth-watering acidity in a rather full-bodied flavor, with tart and juicy limes in a very long finish. A very impressive wine, demonstrates the potential of serious Pinot Gris.

    Lucien Albrecht’s Pinot gris ‘Cuvée Romanus’ 2012 has a delicate nose and an expressive palate hinting of apricot and peach.

    The color is a light straw. At first the nose was a little tight, but it eventually opened up. Red delicious apple is the first aroma I notice from this wine. There’s also a bit of apricot and a light floral aroma. The palate has much greater intensity than the nose. Intense apple flavor and crisp acidity make this a really interesting wine. It is like biting into a crisp, fresh red delicious apple. I also find a bit of lemon flavor up front and soft peach on the finish. I’ve said in the past that I’m not a big fan of Pinot Grigio/Gris, but if they all tasted like this I’d be drinking Pinot Gris more often. This is a very nice wine. I gave it an 88 and would have scored it higher with a little more intensity on the nose and a slightly longer finish.

    Fresh pears combine with green herbs in the nose. In the mouth this wine is round, combining a little residual sugar with moderate acidity and richness – a nice value again.

    This pours out a nice, light golden color. On the nose ripe peach, pear, melon and tropical fruit are evident. In the mouth this is thick and luscious with a tad more sweetness than I was expecting. Flavors of melon, peach and a little spice come across with a silky texture. The fruit carries through the medium length finish.

    Made from 100 percemt Pinot Gris, this wine expresses the rich yet dry power of the varietal — my favorite in Alsace, even over Riesling. Great weightand texture, this is the wine to accompany a steak entree if you always drink white. Perfect with roasted chicken in a cream sauce in June. Served with Foie Gras in Alsace.

    A terrific wine, this had apple, melon, and herbal aromas. The flavors were fresh, round, and soft with peach, pear, and apple notes.

Pinot Grigio

  • Lungarotti Pinot Grigio, $10 - $14.
    (Italy, Umbria)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Here’s a pretty Pinot Grigio that offers a heady fragrance of white flowers and Granny Smith apple. On the palate, this offers creamy green apple and pear flavors, uplifted by fresh acidity. 86 points.

    The exception was the Italian Pinot Grigio from Lungarotti, a very clean, crisp and mineral-inflected wine with a back label clearly in need of some good copyediting.

    I . . . was very impressed by the quality. I started with the Pinot Grigio “Umbria IGT 2008 I00% pinot grigio". It is made from the free run juice and vinified in stainless steel. This is a young fresh fruity wine with good acidity and a little more body then most Pinot Grigios.

    Smells like you’re zesting lime. Fresh, crisp, gently floral with a bit of green spiciness. On entry, this is lean and very direct, small-scaled and acid-driven with slightly pithy lemon flavours. With air, it gains a touch of weight and begins to show some of the green herbal and spice nuances from the nose. A lovely sipper, this gains some nice snap on the finish, which is moderately long and very firm, demanding some food to go along with it. 86 points.

    Lovely varietal character, with more body than the purely aperitif-style PGs possess. From free-run juice vinified in stainless steel and kept on the lees until bottling.

    The pinot [grigio] presented a straw color with a hint of green and offered notes of fresh apple. The pinots from this central region have more minerality than most pinot grigio of northern Italy.

  • Alois Lageder "Sudtirol" Pinot Grigio, $12 - $17.
    (Italy, Alto Adigo; don't confuse this with the less-expensive "Riff" bottlings or the "Dolomiti".)
         ($12.44 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Alois Lageder, Pinot Grigio, 2012 is pale straw yellow. The nose is filled with aromas of lemon, hay, fresh cut grass, and minerals. The palate is filled with citrusy lemon-lime with wet slate and wild flowers. The short finish is balance with a pleasant tart acidity.

    Sweeter, slightly more luscious and honeyed on the nose, with plenty of fruit that is bold and juicy. Palate has a lovely sweetness and ripeness, with a luscious edge to nectarine and pure, tangerine fruit and acidity. Lovely style here, with clarity and length to spare.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (September 2011), 88 points.

    Straw-yellow with a golden tinge. Musky aromas of peach and pear are lifted by an herbal topnote. Broad, rich and almost sweet, with some residual sugar conferring a smooth, supple mouthfeel. The orchard fruit flavors are less intense than the aromas on the medium-long finish.

    Straw yellow with a hint of green (signaling a cooler growing climate), it’s got a flowery aroma with honeydew melon and fresh herbs. It needs to open a bit, but once it does it has a nice rich flavor that is slightly smoky but has a good, fresh finish. Frankly, I’m surprised it only received 85 points from Robert Parker because I’ve definitely tasted others that aren’t as good but received higher scores.

    This wine is from the northernmost wine-producing region in Italy, the Alto Adige. It is dense in flavor and feels very dry and crisp. Works perfectly as an aperitif or alongside appetizers, and goes well with white fish and fruit salad.

    [T]he loamy, mineral-inflected nose of the Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio 2009  . . . is utterly distinct. It smells like a freshly soaked spring day, and tastes just as good.

    Pale, greenish straw yellow in color. Nose is a bit tight at first, and then some pear and apple aromas come through. More pear and nuts on the palate. Dry and light-bodied with lively acidity and a medium finish. A bit watery and plain. Quality: 3 stars (out of five). QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

    Another under-recognized Italian wine region (for whites) is the Alto Adige, where the house of Alois Lageder has been the leader for over a century and a half. They know what they are doing. Frankly all of their whites are good buys and I did a tasting of the Muller Thugau ($15), Pinot Bianco ($14) along with the pinot grigio, my favorite at $15. But if a store had any of them I’d be happy. These are food whites, light in color, straw or greenish tint, light and a bit dry with apple notes, thought the pinot grigio is noticeably richer than its siblings. These are not the easiest wines to find but it’s worth looking.

    However, there are some Italian producers creating well-made versions of Pinot Grigio that are aromatic, pleasantly acidic and richly flavored and worth searching out. One such producer is the Alois Lageder winery in the mountainous Alto Adige region in northeastern Italy. . . Lageder’s Pinot Grigio is sourced from various vineyards in the southern part of the Alto Adige region. The estate’s 2009 Pinot Grigio strikes a remarkable balance between ripe fruit, rich flavors and substantial food-friendly acidity. This is a varietally correct version of a wonderful grape. If only more Pinot Grigio wines were this good.

  • Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio, $12 - $18.
    (Italy, Alto Adigo)
         ($14.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The PG here grows at around 500 feet above sea level, digging deep into the rocky soil, which adds a minerally edge to the apple and pink grapefruit notes in this zingy offering from an outstanding producer.

    Inviting fragrant nose, lively attack on the palate with very good flavor intensity – stone fruit cocktail, grapefruit, spice and a lovely creaminess that adds texture and weight across the palate. Very minerally with a long smooth finish.

    Which brings me precisely to what I find so extraordinarily pleasing about Peter Zemmer wines: their fidelity to their varietal character. For instance: If you want to remind yourself about what Pinot grigio tastes like, and why it became so popular before most makers turned it into mildly alcoholic water, try a bottle of Peter Zemmer’s 2013. My tasting note consists of several exclamation points and the words “Lovely ripe pear scent and taste. Great, live acid. Clean, crisp. Very long dry fruit finish. Just fine.”

    Warm days and cold nights at an elevation of 800 to 2,000 feet produced a pale, straw color wine with crisp fruity notes of green apple and peach and pear, nice legs, and a refreshing palate with a lingering finish.

    Malolactic fermentation does not occur in any of [Zemmer's] white wines. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity.

    Pale straw with a nose of apple, chalk, and a hint of sugar. The palate is of ripe green pears, rather juicy with a subtle minerality streak throughout. It feels a bit flabby on the end, is dry despite the sweetness on the nose, but leaves a pleasing fruity finish that lingers.

    Our best value at $15 was the 2012 Peter Zemmer, which had an unexpectedly pleasant bitterness that set the stage for the next sip.

    A nice dose of floral, chamomile and peach notes with lemon rind and citrus zest on the finish. A food-friendly wine. 86 points.

  • Elena Walch "Selezione" Pinot Grigio, $14 - $19.
    (Italy, Alto Adigo; don't confuse this with the pricier "Castel Ringberg" bottling.)
         ($17.24 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Delightfully bright, with lots of ripe stone fruit aromas and flavors, layers of spice, some smoked crushed nuts, grapefruit and apple blossom. Round, smooth, and long.

    The Elena Walch 2010 Pinot Grigio is pale yellow in color, with a very subtle, but fruity nose. It is 100% Pinot Grigio, matured in stainless steel tanks. It is full bodied and flavorful; much more so than your ‘typical’ Pinot Grigio. Elegant fruit flavors of apples, pears and some citrus notes, with a nice acidity. It is a very versatile wine, and would be wonderful as an apertif, with mild cheese, with light pasta dishes and fish.

    Pale yellow with a hint of green. Aroma arrives in a cloud, a bit like a Pinot Blanc on the nose. Touch of apricot; subtle, but fresh. Some florality too. Dry, rounded. Very pure and clean. Pretty serious and mineral. Little touch of dill and fennel. This would work with food - it has depth and an interesting texture, even if fairly quiet in flavour. Very detailed, you can tell it's made by someone that really cares about the precise outcome. Long. 90 points, good value.

    This style, more typical of Alsatian Pinos Gris (Pinot Grigio’s other guise) is much fuller in body, fruitier (think stone fruits and lemons) and even boasts a wee bit of sweet spice. Elena Walch’s offering is a fantastic example of this richer style Pinot Grigio and the perfect match for a rich and spicy meal. The fullness of the wine, stood up to the rich buttery sauce and the cinnamon flecks found friends in Ottolenghi’s delicious spice combination. A slight mineral crispness and the citrus and apricot burst, worked wonderfully with the fish.

    As clean and crisp as the air in the mountains where it's made, this has a lovely purity of white-fruit flavours, perfect acidity and good length.

    Fruity and minerally in profile with dominant tastes of citrus and apple skins. Nice and basic.

    Refreshing flavors of citrus, nuts and minerals.

    The color is almost clear with just a hint of yellow. A very nice, touch of spring nose, floral with peach, pear and pineapple, very fresh and clean. This Pinot Grigio is light bodied, but with an oily viscosity. The flavor is both sweet and sour, lemon, lime, juicy peach and pear with a nice mineral edge in the mid-palate. The flavors are not big and bold, but measured and balanced. A light but lengthy peach finish, and there is enough of acidity to have you smacking your lips. If your idea of Pinot Grigio is shaped by Santa Margherita (though Santa Margherita recently introduced an Alto Adige Pinot Grigio) or Voga, you might be surprised by the Elena Walch Pinot Grigio. It is classy, elegant, balanced, but easy to drink, light in body and flavor, but with some substance behind it.

  • Kellerei Cantina Terlano Pinot Grigio, $14 - $24.
    (Italy, Alto Adigo; Cantina Terlano is a winery cooperative, whose name appears on its bottles as "Terlan".)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Cantina Terlano Alto Adige Pinot Grigio is consistently one of the best Pinot Grigio’s in the market. . . This wine has a muted yellow color with a slight pink rim. The aromatics are refined with floral elements of tangerine and stone fruits. The wine is laced with a buttery viscosity of white peach and candied lemons, yet the juicy richness of this wine still speaks of elegance on the finish. This is a wine worth remembering as the benchmark of Pinot Grigio’s.

    This full-bodied Pinot Grigio opens with aromas of tropical fruit, melon and stone fruit. The concentrated palate delvers yellow peach, mature pear and juicy pineapple alongside notes of aromatic herbs. 89 points.

    This is what I love in a wine, deep multi-faceted fruit, with a tropical elenment. Balance and harmony is key. You want a wine that stays with you and accents and compliments your food. Terlan does just that.

    If, like me, you're a fan of light white wines that have bright acidity and soft citrus notes with a dry finish, Cantina Terlano, a pinot grigio from Alto Adige is among the best. This boutique producer is located on the best soils and elevations of the Italian Alps and produces a tiny number of bottles compared to other, bigger wineries.

    2008’s Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio spilled from bottle into big Bordeaux glasses and, for a moment, connected both with a pretty trail of straw yellow. Born in the sandy soil around Terlano, Italy, Terlan Pinot Grigio is produced by the spectacular Alto Adige cooperative of Cantina Terlan. Approximately 100 growers and 150 production hectares comprise the Terlan cooperative whose wines could model a “what’s unique about Alto Adige” wine study. And please…don’t worry about the cooperative thing… well known as one of Italy’s top producers, Cantina Terlan will not let you down in the quality department. The melon fruit character of Terlan’s Pinot Grigio played deliciously well against the speck. Notes of peach, pear and apple were super counterpoint to the Gruyere, with a hint of almond echoing the Gruyere’s nuttiness. The wine’s round, creamy palate made mad harmony with Normandy butter on French bread creating a super-sensual mouthfeel, while crisp acidity and minerality were appreciated with bites of smoked oyster.

    It presents with a lighter gold/straw hue and a bouquet that emits powdery, gentle vanilla with mango, pineapple and a tropical fruit mash that is nearly seductive. Palate--first impression is disappointing with a slightly overpowering sense of alcohol and a bitter foundation that distracts from the fruit which is in rather short supply. The texture is somewhat creamy but with citrus notes and an off flavor that is less than appealing. The finish however is actually the best part of the wine with lingering yellow apple and pear notes.

    In the world of whites, Italy's Pinot Grigio is usually considered a lightweight summer wine. But the Pinot Grigios from Cantina Terlano in the Alto Adige in northeast Italy have an interesting mineral character that comes from the vineyards' volcanic soils. With its beautiful texture, notes of apple and citrus, and zesty finish, the cellar's 2003 basic Pinot Grigio is a phenomenal food wine. It goes as well with prosciutto or chicken liver crostini as it does with grilled fish or spicy Asian food. An all-season basic.

    My favorite one of all was Cantina Terlano Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2009, which has a wonderful steely structure that you don't taste. What you do get instead is a luscious lemon curd.

    In Italy, the best Pinot Grigios come from the cool areas in northeast Italy, especially in the Alto Adige. Cantina di Terlano Pinot Grigio is a big-boned wine that will do well with rich cream sauces.

  • Palmina "Alisos Vineyard" Pinot Grigio, $15 - $20.
    (California, Santa Barbara County; don't confuse this vineyard-specific bottling with their standard bottling.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    No one else who is growing grapes and making wine in California has taken Italian varietals this seriously. The resulting wines are imbued with New World charm and Old World soul. Their Pinot Grigio is wonderful. Flavors of summer stone fruit give way to citrus notes and the characteristic richness and oily texture that this varietal is known for.

    Fleshy, with some depth and a touch of honey. Classy wine. Great with fried oysters or soft-shelled crabs. Good/Very Good.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar: 1 July 2005, 90 points; November/December 2007, 89 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate: 31 August 2004, 90 points; August 2007, 89 points.

    Fresh apple, pear, and orange blossom scents along with a distinctive minerality and impeccable elegance characterize the 2006 Pinot Grigio Alisos Vineyard.

    Pale yellow. Exotic yellow fruits and cherry pit on the nose, with a light floral quality building with air. Fresh and juicy, with energetic pit fruit flavors, medium weight and a long, sweet finish. Nicely fleshy pinot grigio.

    Nice and whistle-clean in acidity, with a sleek minerality, this wine has ripe flavors of pineapples, nectarines and crisp green apples. It tastes a little sweet because it’s so fruity. 85 points.

    Of the Pinot Grigios I tasted, about 50 were Italian; the remainder were American, including one particularly good wine from California, the 2004 Palmina Alisos Vineyard from Santa Barbara County. Made by Steve Clifton of Brewer-Clifton winery fame, the wine had a crisp acidity and a lovely aroma of pears (most Pinot Grigios don't have much of a nose).

    Beautiful floral and crisp, clean spring water on the nose, a touch of sour fruit followed by lychee, kiwi, citrus (primarily grapefruit), and a clean, fairly long finish. A wonderful pinot grigio, and one that I plan to purchase more of - Palmina does make excellent wines, to be sure.

    The Palmina Pinot Grigio made by Steve Clifton at his Alisos Vineyard has the crisp acidity that makes it a friend to any food.

    A bouquet of citrus peel, wild arugula and honeysuckle tease the senses. A sip astonishes with crisp and refreshing acidity delivering white peach, Bosc pear and Fuyu persimmon flavors, all mingling with a stony, flinty character.

    I think the white wines are the real stars here – the Pinot Grigio had pleasant stone fruit and melon aromas, a touch of spice, and lively acidity.

For a Splurge

While there is a plethora of candidates, one that seems to get a lot of critical attention is from a Slovenian winemaker, the Movia "Sivi" Pinot Grigio, costing from about $23 to $33. (Note that "Sivi Pinot" is their local name for Pinot Grigio.) Wine Spectator gave the 2006 vintage 91 points; Wine Enthusiast gave the 2008 90 points; and the lone reviewer of it on CellarTracker gave it a 92. The Movia Winery was Wine & Spirits’ 2011 Winery of the Year.

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