WWBG: Beefy Pinot Grigio

WWBG

Editor’s Note: This weekly column is sponsored by Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

It has taken years for me to warm up to Pinot Grigio as a respected drink. Pinot Grigio has the stigma of being “Mom’s” or “Grandma’s” wine, making it hard to order a glass of Pinot Grigio at a nice restaurant as a man.

However, as I’ve grown wiser and tasted more Pinot Grigios, I now realize how much more they have to offer. Top winemakers from Italy, California, and Oregon have been producing lesser known but much more medium- to full-bodied Pinot Grigio all along.

Advances in technology have led to bigger and better Pinot Grigio wines. Certain regions of Italy produce Pinot Grigios that have almost as much body as some Chardonnays but still have the smooth intense flavors of a true Pinot Grigio. Oregon and California make their own version of Pinot Grigio called Pinot Gris. Even though this is the same grape as the one grown in Italy, Pinot Gris from the U.S. consistently have fuller bodied characteristics compared to their Italian counterparts.

Pinot Grigio is still a summertime favorite choice of white wine drinkers. Crisp, bright, and naturally refreshing, it is the perfect companion to any hot summer day with seafood, chicken, pasta, and cheese. Flavors range from tropical fruit, melon, and pear to citrus fruits; while some offer a hint of minerality and earthiness. Here are some recommendations of beefier Pinot Grigio/Gris that will please any white wine drinker on a summer day.

Venica & Venica Pinot Grigio 2010 Friuli- Venezia Guilia, Italy

VenicaThis is the wine that changed my stance about Pinot Grigio. From Italy’s northeast region of Friuli, this is a true Pinot Grigio straight from winemakers who are only interested in producing high quality, small-scale wines. Venica & Venica has incredible aroma, pure fruit notes, with a rich full body. As my colleague likes to say: “this wine blows Santa Margherita out of the water at a cheaper price.”

King Estate Pinot Gris 2011 Oregon, U.S.A

KingThe benchmark for U.S. Pinot Gris, King Estate brought Pinot Gris to another level beginning in the 1990’s. King Estate set out to make a high quality Pinot Gris using organic grapes and now are the largest producers of Pinot Gris in the world. With flavorful lemon-lime, green apple, peach, and pineapple taste, this Pinot Gris finishes crisp and lengthy.

Alois Lagder Pinot Grigio Alto 2012 Aldige, Italy

AloisThis particular Pinot Grigio comes from Italy’s mountainous northern region. The altitude of the Lagder winery produces fresh clean beautiful white wines. The wines have a great minerality you don’t usually find in most Pinot Grigios. Previous vintages have consistently scored 90 points or higher in reputable wine publications.

 

La Crema Pinot Gris 2012 Monterey, California

La CremaLa Crema is very well known for making high end Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. I was very skeptical when I first was presented this Pinot Gris thinking it would be another wine maker trying to cash in on Pinot Grigio’s popularity. I was wrong. Very wrong. This wine is excellent. The conditions in Monterey make for a cool climate Pinot Gris that turns into a lush wine with great fruit character.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

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