A Valentine to Two Readers: St Michael Eppan, AA Pinot Grigio "Sanct Valentin" 2010 DOC Reviewed

St Michael Eppan, Alto Adige Pinot Grigio "Sanct Valentin" DOCEssentially, 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 our review of St Michael-Eppan, Alto Adige Pinot Grigio “Sanct Valentin” 2010 DOC ($30).

The Bottom Line

Overall, a very good wine and a quality product of Pinot Grigio grapes.

Rating: Very Good and Recommended Very Good – $$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)

About the Grape

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 taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012).

Our Detailed Review

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.

My review is based on a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting sheet (for more information, see my post that provides a detailed overview of it).

In the glass, it poured a warm straw yellow, and it was thick when swirled, indicating good structure.

On the nose, its bouquet was 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 was dry, warm and creamy, with pretty good acidity and noticeable minerality, which made it a balanced wine with good structure. The wine had a pleasantly long finish. In terms of its evolutionary state, it was ready, meaning that it can definitely be enjoyed now and can possibly evolve even more with one or two years of additional aging.

Happy Sanct Valentin, everybody! 😉

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0 thoughts on “A Valentine to Two Readers: St Michael Eppan, AA Pinot Grigio "Sanct Valentin" 2010 DOC Reviewed

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Sarah! I’m pretty sure you guys will not be disappointed!
      As mentioned in my replies to previous comments from Kathy and Frank, you may also want to consider giving Maso Poli’s Trentino Pinot Grigio a shot: it retails for about $18-20 in the US and it should also be a solid choice!
      Take care, Sarah 🙂

  1. frankkwine1982

    Thank you so much for this wine review! That is really kind of you 🙂
    I will see if I can buy the Sanct Valentin somewhere. Maybe I’ll make a tasting between an Alto Adige Pinot Grigio and the Sanct Valentin. That should be interesting.
    Very nice tasting notes. I think i would enjoy the Sanct Valentin judging by your tasting notes. I like this ISA tasting sheet style. Informative but easy to understand.
    Also thanks for the shout out!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Frank,
      You are very welcome! I thought you might appreciate it given our previous discussions 🙂
      Your wine tasting idea is good and also fun: as I mentioned to Kathy in response to her comment, you should consider throwing in the mix a bootle of Maso Poli’s Trentino Pinot Grigio, which retails in the US for about $18-20 and could be a good contender for the Sanct Valentin. If you do, I would be very much looking forward to your tasting notes on it!
      Take care

      1. frankkwine1982

        I will try the Maso Poli Pinot Grigio, too 🙂
        For the dinner, I just have to convince my friends and my wife. Both don’t have a good opinion about Pinot Grigio.. I don’t want to end up eating and drinking all these wines alone (not fun!).

        1. Stefano Post author

          Hehe, generally speaking, who can blame them! 🙂
          But, the SV is certainly not your average “yawn” type of PG, and (although I have not personally tried it yet) it sounds like the Maso Poli makes for a pretty good alternative.
          Take care

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi B!
      I am glad you noticed, because that was the whole idea behind that choice of wine to review. Actually, the pun occurred to Francesca who suggested I should review that wine for Saint Valentine’s day 🙂

  2. Kathy Bertone

    I’ve never really gotten into PG because I thought it was too fruit forward. But by your description (a bit of oak, creamy, etc.) I am dying to try. Is there one with those characteristics that are under $30? Thanks, Stefano!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Kathy,
      Yes, I think you would quite like the Sanct Valentin PG and you might even find it worth the investment 🙂
      In terms of more affordable alternatives that have a similar style, it is easier said than done, in part because of the limited availability of certain Italian wines in the US and in part because of the economic reasons I alluded to in my reply to Julian’s post below.
      St Michael Eppan makes a “junior version” of the Sanct Valentin PG, that is called Anger, which is definitely less expensive (about $16 in the US) and is still a quality PG, but its characteristics are different than those of the SV, in that it does not age in barrique barrels, but does only 6 months in large wood barrels instead, which results in a less complex bouquet and in the lack of that creamy, slightly oaky mouthfeel that you seem to quite like. Frank over at Wine Talks has a nice review of the Anger if you want to check it out: http://winetalks.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/2011-san-michele-appiano-anger-italy/
      A good option for you might be trying out Maso Poli’s Trentino Pinot Grigio, which retails in the US for about $18-20 and has a style that is closer to what you like.
      Hope this helps 🙂 and if you get to try any of these wines please let me know how you like them!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Julian, thank you for your comment.
      Personally, in relation to your price comment, I think my reaction is yes and no 🙂
      Although I for one am not a big fan of PG, the reviewed wine is certainly not the usual nondescript Pinot Grigio that you can find pretty much everywhere for $9.99. It is a quality wine made with grapes coming from the winery’s top cru and in such a way as to maximize the potential of its bouquet and its flavor.
      Price-wise, there is quite significant a difference between how much it retails for in Italy (€20) and in the US (~$30). Personally, I would not be outraged to pay €20 in Italy for this wine, as I think its quality justifies the price. In the States, instead, I agree with you that pricing it at $30 puts it definitely in the high end of the market, but here we would need to get into a different discussion.
      In short, we would have to discuss how the US easily outsmarted Europe in the years of the financial crisis by significantly devaluing the dollar against the euro so as to boost US exports at a time of weak internal demand while at the same time making it harder for European products to be competitive in the US market because of the strong euro and the custom duties. The point being that, while the Fed is a true central bank whose mandate is to keep inflation at bay in expansionary cycles but that can also resort to other economic policy tools (such as devaluation) to react in a crisis situation, the ECB is only half that, with her mandate being only to prevent high inflation, which meant that in the present crisis the ECB could only lower interest rates to TRY to stimulate the economy, but that only helped to keep liquidity in the system, it did not help European exports at all.
      But I am definitely digressing here… 🙂

  3. 4akitchenblog

    I love DRINKING wine but I didn’t know Pinot Grigio is a mutation of Pinot Noir 🙂
    May I ask a question about wine grapes? Do I have to wait until the harvest season (in Autumn?) if I want to make a wine grape starter with the natural yeast of wine grapes for my bread? Or is there another option?

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi Yuko,
      Thanks or stopping by!
      So, are you saying that you would like to use the wild yeast that generally lives on grape skin as baking powder? Or have I misunderstood you?
      If this is what you asked, I am certainly no expert in this field, and for instance I would not know if that wild yeast would be effective with your bread. Most wineries utilize commercially selected Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains (instead of the wild yeast present in grapes) for alcoholic fermentation, which I think is the same type of yeast that is used for baking, but I am not sure how wild yeast strains differ from Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
      Anyway, yes, assuming this works, I think you should wait for harvest season to get grapes with wild yeast on their skins, but again I am no expert in this area!
      Take care

      1. 4akitchenblog

        Stefano, thank you so much for sparing your time to answer my question! Yes, that is exactly what I asked. I would like to make wild yeast water with fresh wine grapes. Since I want to try to make it asap, I wonder if there are some particular types of wine grapes which harvest in spring… Hahaha! Thanks for your help and answering my stupid question 🙂