By Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth.com
White wine is poured into a glass.One thing you learn quickly when you get to taste as many wines as I do is that there is only a loose correlation between price and quality. Paying more for a wine certainly doesn't guarantee a better wine, but when you move from one price point to another you can at least hope that the average score of the relative groups will justify the price differential.
With Pinot Grigio, that is certainly true. This group of wines, ranging from just under $10 to about $15, is really a nice representation of what to expect at this price point. There are a few winners, wines that can easily compete with bottles costing 50 percent more, but there are also a lot of duds here. Sometimes when we spend a little less hoping to save money, we end up with a lot less wine for our money. Shop carefully and you'll see that there are many values to be found in Pinot Grigio under $15 a bottle.
These wines are bursting with the trademark fresh fruit and bright character we all love in our Pinot Grigio. Even some $10 bottles can be delicious, but at this price point there are too many pitfalls to ignore, so shop carefully!
1. 2011 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio, $15
This wine comes from the Valdadige section of Veneto in Italy. Softly fragrant on the nose with some light herb spice notes accenting the apricot, lime pith and heirloom apple fruit. This is a modestly rich, nicely dry example of Pinot Grigio with some really attractive mineral and almond notes adding detail to the moderately long finish.
2. 2011 Willow Crest Pinot Gris, $15
Hailing from the Yakima Valley region of Washington, this wine is hugely aromatic with some sulfur that needs to blow off. Under that this has intense citrus, passion fruit and melon aromas. Nicely balanced in the mouth. The intensity found on the nose does not quite translate to the palate, though this does have a lovely tangerine, honeydew and lightly exotic tropical fruit profile which is delightful if not terribly varietal. This is a lovely rendition of Pinot Gris.
3. 2010 Bargetto Regan Vineyard Pinot Grigio, $15
Bargetto Regan Vineyard is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. You'll find it dry and dusty on the nose with lots of apple core and mineral aromas topped with a little sage and sorrel herbiness. Dry, small-scaled and precise on entry, this is a nicely scaled wine with richness and good acidity lending excellent balance. The flavors run towards Asian pear and heirloom apples here, with a little cashew thrown in for good measure.
4. 2011 Santi Sortesele Pinot Grigio, $12
An Italian wine, this one is born and raised in Delle Venezie. There's plenty to like here with juicy, mouthwatering acidity balanced by an edge of fleshness. Succulent flavors of green apple, dried lemon pith and a touch of apricot all come together on the palate and play out on the rather long finish, which shows slight sweetness balancing out the acidity. A bit simple but well put together.
5. 2011 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris, $14
A selection from Australia's Yarra Valley, this one has a ripe aroma with slightly waxy yellow fruits that quickly turn a bit flat and herbal with air. Soft and broad in the mouth with a nice mineral edge and good clarity, though this is a bit thin. The acidity really drives this, lending the wine citric and slightly bitter apple peel flavors and a nice mineral wash to the finish. A final wave of sweet fruit does reappear on the finish adding nice detail to the finale. This is not going to be that popular as it is not fruit-driven, but it is somewhat complex and has a nice interplay of sweet, sour and bitter flavors on the palate.
6. 2010 Pighin Pinot Grigio Friuli, $14
Another Italian option, the wine is pretty aromatic with a nice blast of plum, framed by saffron and gentle, dried orange peel notes over a dried apricot base. It feels light and feathery in the mouth, this is sheer and delicate with clear plum and green apple flavors across the palate that quickly yield to a light dried apple- and spice-toned finish. Easy to enjoy with some complexity but ultimately a lightweight wine.
7. 2011 Lungarotti Pinot Grigio, $14
This Umbria, Italy, wine's aroma will remind you of zesting a lime. Fresh, crisp, gently floral with a bit of green spiciness. On entry, this is lean and very direct, small-scaled and acid-driven with slightly pithy lemon flavors. With air, it gains a touch of weight and begins to show some of the green herbal and spice nuances from the nose. A lovely sipper, this gains some nice snap on the finish, which is moderately long and very firm, demanding some food to go along with it.
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By Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth.com