Wait! Before you delete this post thinking it’s just another evaluation of a bland, one dimensional, citrus-scented Pinot Grigio, please give me a minute or two of your time. I know a lot of wine snobs scorn PG describing it as innocuous and uninteresting…and sometimes they are correct. That however is not a good reason to turn your nose up at the most popular varietal wine imported into the U.S. They can be challenging to find but there are sophisticated, complex examples of Pinot Grigio out there if you know where to look.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of the 20 Italian regions. It borders Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east; to the south it faces the Adriatic Sea and to the west the Veneto region. Friuli (as it is commonly called) has a reputation for producing some of Italy’s most compelling and captivating wines. There are a number of indigenous grape varieties in this northeastern corner of Italy. Refosco dal Peduncolo, Schioppettino and Trazzelenghe are some of the more unique red wines. Ribolla Gialla, Traminer Aromatico and Verduzzo might not be white wines you are familiar with, but Pinot Grigio is also crafted with great success in the region.
Within the borders of Friuli there are smaller sub-zones where the wines of uncommon complexity hail from. Rive Alte Friuli Isonzo is located in the southeastern part of Friuli. This area lies on a plain of alluvial soils along the Isonzo River giving the wines a distinct minerality. Friuli Isonzo also enjoys a maritime climate due to the nearby Adriatic Sea. The cool night time breezes from the mountains to the north provide for excellent diurnal temperature variation. These factors combine to create an ideal environment for growing vines and producing high-quality wines.
New to our portfolio is Sant’Elena Pinot Grigio from Rive Alte Isonzo. This appealing wine has a complex, spicy nose with hints of honeysuckle, orange peel and bright lemon flavors. One sip of this delectable wine and you’ll know this is not just another Pinot Grigio.
Paul Quaglini, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine and spirits supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinepaulq