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Pinot Grigio? Si, Grazie!

Posted: Apr 20, 2007 5:46pm ET

I had a quick pasta carbonara with my children tonight, Jack and Isabel. They are over in Tuscany for spring break from England. And I popped the cork on a 2005 Schiopetto Collio Pinot Grigio to go with the pasta. The wine is so beautiful with melon, pie crust and citrus character on the nose and palate. It’s rich yet fresh.

But Pinot Grigio has a pretty bad rap in the States. And it’s probably deserved. There is a lot of insipid white bottled as Pinot Grigio. It became the “new” Chardonnay in the 1990s, and Italy sold millions and millions of bottles to the States. Now it seems to be made everywhere from Australia to Oregon. Who knows if it’s really Pinot Grigio or not? It seems to have become a synonym for neutral and citrusy white.

And it seems that price points aren’t a guarantee either. You can get a good or bad bottle for $7 or a good or bad one for $20 or even $40. So beware.

But if you want to know what excellent Italian Pinot Grigio has to offer, look for my favorite producers including: Schiopetto, Vie di Romans, S. Michael-Eppan, Alois Lageder, Cantina Tramin and Cantina Terlano. The last two are cooperatives in Alto Adige and make excellent whites for the money. Don’t worry about vintages. Just buy the newest possible, which would be 2005 and 2004 at the moment. The 2006s should be shipping now. They sell for between $20 and $35 a bottle.

Michael Holzer
Miami Fl —  April 20, 2007 9:41pm ET
After living in Friuli from 2002-2005, I became a big fan of Franco Toros wine, including his pinot grigio. Ronco de gelso also very good. It was nice to be able to get them for under 10Euro while I was living there. Cant get near that price here in the US now.
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  April 20, 2007 11:55pm ET
Do Austrian pinot gris count? 2005 Illmitz Kracher Burgenland (sp?) Kracher, with his wonderful TBAs, show that if he has his hands on any grape he can make anything amazing. Love it, it's racy, loads of citrus, orange zest and well balanced. I've found some for 22$ in NY, great stuff.
Michael Culley
April 21, 2007 11:42am ET
So nice to hear that phrase "popped the cork" again...thank you!
Albert Jochems
The Netherlands —  April 21, 2007 3:37pm ET
A blog as crisp as the wines itself!
Clear message: "don't worry about the vintages". Good to see that sometimes life can be easy and still full of excellent quality!
Jim May
Los Angeles —  April 24, 2007 1:01am ET
I have to wonder whether every white wine grape outside of Chardonnay get accused of being "insipid" at one point or another; when I read the line about Pinot Grigio having a "bad rap", I was immediately reminded of Slate's Mike Steinberg's April 18, 2006 column on saying more or less the same thing about Sauvignon Blanc.

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