Pinot Gris, Grigio, Blanc
Pinot Gris and its Italian twin, Pinot Grigio, are still mighty popular. This trend line hasn't changed since I wrote three years ago that Pinot Gris plantings in California had jumped almost 300 percent over the preceding decade, approaching Sauvignon Blanc as second-most-grown white wine grape after Chardonnay in the Golden State.
As I said then, so it is now: Pinot Gris (and Grigio) is easy to find on the wine list or in the wine shop. But sadly, commercial pressure and the pursuit of profits has turned what was once a fairly reliable artisanal product with a sense of place into a mass-market commodity.
The good news is that there is still some very good Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio out there, but it takes careful shopping to sort it out from the industrial-style stuff that seems to serves primarily as an alcohol-delivery system.
This week's featured wine, a rich, aromatic Pinot Grigio from Pietra Santa in California's Cienega Valley, is one of the winners. We know there are plenty more, and we hope you'll join us in an up-close look at the "gray" Pinots - and Pinot Blanc ("white"), too, in our WineLovers Discussion Group for July.
Possible geographical starting points might include the Collio hills of Northeastern Italy's Friuli, for one, and from bordering Slovenia; from Alpine Northern Italy, from Austria and from Alsace; from Oregon, from selected California vineyards like Pietra Santa and Au Bon Climat; from New York's Finger Lakes and Ontario's Niagara Peninsula, from New Zealand and, well ... you try 'em, taste 'em, and check in to the forum to let us know what you find!
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Today's Tasting Report
Pietra Santa 2010 Cienega Valley Pinot Grigio ($10.99)
Clear pale gold. Fresh, delicate but distinct scents of mango, peach and melon carry over in the flavor where they join snappy citrus flavors, lemon-lime and grapefruit; juicy but dry and tart, with a touch of pleasing peach-pit bitterness in the finish. Good balance and a lot of character in a Southern California Pinot Grigio. (July 1, 2013)
FOOD MATCH: With its aromatics, it will stand up to full-flavored presentations of poultry, pork or richer seafood. It was fine with a summer meal of fried chicken fingers and a salad of green beans and white beans in olive oil infused with fresh sage, thyme and rosemary.
WHEN TO DRINK: The aromatics, body and balance still present in this 2010 suggest no real need to drink it up in the short term, and it may even gain a little richness with a year or three more under good cellar conditions.
VALUE: The wine is fairily priced for its quality level at the winery's recommended $18 retail price. For $10.99 on The California Wine Club's Reds, Whites and YOU Sale, it's an exceptional value.
Cienega = "See-EHN-uh-guh"
Pinot Gris, Grigio = "Pee-noe Gree, Gree-joe
This link goes to the producer's fact page on the 2011 Pinot Grigio, which appears to be similar in flavor profile to the featured 2010. For producer info on the 2010, click here.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
This wine is currently available to California Wine Club members for $11.99 on the Club's Reds, Whites and YOU Sale, which continues until July 7.
$1 Shipping plus Award-Winning Wines on Sale!
This is your chance to stock up on handcrafted wines from California's best small, family-run wineries with great savings!
Don't wait, sale ends July 7, 2013.
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