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This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, May. 20, 2009 and can be found at

Serious Pinot Grigio

There's an awful lot of light, bland and essentially flavorless Pinot Gris around these days, and the situation for Pinot Grigio - the Italian moniker for this increasingly popular white grape - may be more grim still.

I never want to come across as a wine snob, but I don't think there's anything snobbish about pointing out on occasion that the emperor's new clothes are his birthday suit. As for Pinot Gris and Grigio, wide popularity and low price has quite frankly fostered a wine of choice for uncritical sippers who, in past market cycles, have called for "chablis," a "glass of white wine" or even "Chardonnay."

The good news, however, is that there are always exceptions that disprove the rule. A lot of Pinot Gris from Alsace and a fair share from Oregon rises above least-common-denominator level. And in Italy, especially in Northeastern Fruili Venezia-Giulia, Pinot Grigio can be all that it should: Textured, musky and touched with intriguing minerality; a splendid match with food.

Much of the best of Fruili's Pinot Grigio comes from the hilly regions bordering Slovenia: Collio and Colli Orientali. This week's tasting, however, the 2007 Pinot Grigio from Fernando Pighin & Figli, comes from Grave del Fruili on the gravelly Adriatic plain, demonstrating that hillsides may be desirable, but they're not absolutely required for quality.

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Today's Tasting Report

Pighin 2007 Grave del Fruili Pinot Grigio ($15.99)Pighin
Transparent straw color. Good musky melon and white-flower scents of quality Friuli Pinot Grigio, retaining the intensity that's lost when this grape is all-too-frequently overcropped for quantity. Flavors are consistent with the nose, muskmelon and crisp, mouth-watering acidity that lingers with fresh melon and a touch of lime in a long finish. A fine food match with a restaurant spinach-artichoke dip reconstituted with more spinach, garlic and onions and cream as a pasta sauce. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., NYC. (May 15, 2009)

The U.S. importer's Website provides this brief fact sheet on Pighin Pinot Grigio, with additional links for winery information and Pighin's other wines:

Locate vendors and check prices for Pighin Pinot Grigio on

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