Essentially, this post is a valentine for two of our readers who, on different occasions, asked questions about Italian Pinot Grigio wines: Jeanette of wonderful Africa-centric blog Global Grazers where readers may learn many facets of African cultures, food and wine, and Frank, the author of the excellent wine blog Wine Talks, where he reviews quality wines in an effective, concise and clear fashion – a pleasure to read. If you are not following these two great blogs already, you should definitely go check them out: chances are you are going to like them a lot.
Anyway, let’s get to it.
Let’s start with some general information about Pinot Grigio, AKA Pinot Gris, as a grape variety. Pinot Grigio is a color mutation of Pinot Noir whose origins can be traced back to the XVIII century in both Germany and France. Pinot Grigio is said to have been cultivated in Northern Italy since the XIX century. Pinot Grigio is a grey-berried grape with generally high sugar levels and moderate acidity. In Italy, for some reason, Pinot Grigio came into fashion in the late Ninenties/early two thousands, a trend that has been fueled by booming exports especially to the UK and the US of mostly inexpensive and lackluster wines made out of an overproduction of this grape variety. This phenomenon somewhat tarnished the reputation of Pinot Grigio, which was often associated with a cheap, mass-production type of wine, until in the last few years it started falling out of favor. Fortunately, some quality Italian Pinot Grigio is still made, particularly in the regions of Friuli, Alto Adige and Veneto (grape variety information cit. from Wine Grapes, by J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz, HarperCollins 2012).
In this review, I will share my tasting notes for one of such quality wines: St Michael Eppan‘s Alto Adige Pinot Grigio “Sanct Valentin” 2010 DOC. As you may know, “Sanct Valentin” is the flagship line in the wine offering of Alto Adige’s solid winery St Michael Eppan. The Pinot Grigio Sanct Valentin is available in the US where it retails at about $30.
The Pinot Grigio Sanct Valentin is made from grapes harvested from 15 to 20 year old vines at an elevation of about 500 mt/1,640 ft in proximity to the town of Appiano (near Bolzano). One third of the wine is fermented in new barrique (small oak) casks and two thirds in used ones, where the wine rest on its lees for 11 months, then 6 months in steel vessels.
The color is a warm straw yellow, and it is thick when swirled in the glass, indicating good structure.
The bouquet is intense, fine and complex, with aromas of pear, white flowers and citrus coupled with hints of butter, white pepper, flint and oaky notes.
In the mouth it is dry, warm and creamy, with pretty good acidity and noticeable minerality, which make it a balanced wine with good structure. The wine has a long and pleasant finish. In terms of its evolutionary state, it is ready, meaning that it can definitely be enjoyed now and can possibly evolve even more with one or two years of additional aging.
Overall, a very good wine and a quality product of Pinot Grigio grapes.
Happy Sanct Valentin, everybody!