Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris as it goes by in France, is grown widely throughout Italy, France and Germany, and – as you might expect from a wine produced in such a range of geographical and climatic conditions – can vary hugely in characteristics and quality. Here at Tannico, we showcase a handpicked selection of some of the very best examples of this immensely popular white wine, from some of the largest and most established producers to very promising newcomers. In Italy, the regions of Friuli, Veneto and Trentino represent the standard bearer for quality Pinot Grigio wines, together composing the DOC Pinot Grigio delle Venezie. In turn, within this appellation, the wines of the Collio area in Friuli are traditionally considered to represent the peak of excellence. Collio’s vineyards are situated on steep hillsides, with significant temperature variations from day to night which translate into increased freshness in the resulting wines. The soil in the area is also an important factor: a mixture of sandstone and marl, it actually has a restrictive effect on vine yields. This might seem counterproductive, but lower yields mean more intense flavours in the wine. This can further be enhanced by leaving the wine on the lees during aging, as is the case with Dorigo’s 100% Pinot Grigio from the Friuli Colli Orientali.
What are the characteristics of Pinot Grigio? Thought to have arisen as a result of a genetic mutation from Pinot Nero – a.k.a. Pinot Noir – Pinot Grigio owes its name to the distinctive greyish-blue colour of its grapes. With regard to its tasting profile, this light straw-coloured wine is fresh, clean and crisp, commonly presenting lemon or lime and green apple flavours on the palate, with mineral undertones. A great range of subtleties can be identified in the diverse offerings from our featured vineyards however, from notes of banana and tropical fruit in the Friuli Pinot Grigio ‘Le Marsure’, from Teresa Raiz, to freshly cut grass and a touch of almond in Cantina Tramin's Alto Adige version. From the same region as this latter, San Michele Appiano’s ‘Anger’ recalls ripe pear and melon, whilst the floral notes of Villa Vescovile’s Trentino offering are sure to delight. Try an oenological journey in the comforts of your own home, perhaps stopping by in Slovenia at the Slavcek winery, or Alsace, courtesy of the Pinot Gris, ‘Grand Cru Brand’, from the Charles Sparr winery?
This easy drinking and versatile wine is a real crowd-pleaser. The perfect white for drinks and nibbles in the garden, Italian Pinot Grigio also pairs well with white fish and poultry, fish tartare, soft cheese, grilled vegetables, salads, prosciutto… the list is endless. As Pinot Grigio has medium to high acidity, it works less well with acidic foods, so avoid citrus or tomato-based dishes. Just chill, pour and enjoy.