Tasting Group: Italian Pinot Grigio



By Kori ~ August 31st, 2010.

Since we live in Washington State and often drink wines from Washington State, we want to make sure that we continue to hone our knowledge of the entire world of wine and maintain well-rounded palates in order to make us even more objective when we evaluate wines from Washington State. Therefore, we are thoroughly enjoying our Wine Peeps Tasting Group which includes what we think is an excellent peer group of knowledgeable wine lovers to taste, share, and learn more about wine together. Unlike our monthly wine tasting dinners in which the guests rotate, this tasting group includes people who are committed to getting together once a month which we believe benefits all of us. In addition to trying varieties and regions that we do not taste frequently, the other main difference between this group and our wine tasting dinners is that each group member brings a bottle consistent with the month’s theme so no one knows all the wines in the blind tasting.

Last week, we met and explored Italian Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio, known as Pinot Gris in some parts of the world, is a very popular quaffing wine. In most cases, it is light, simple, refreshing, and pairs well with a variety of foods, which gives it broad consumer appeal. Pinot Grigio is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. It is traditionally fermented in stainless steel to preserve its fruit and freshness. Pinot Grigio has really made a name for itself in the northeast of Italy in Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

We tasted seven bottles of Italian Pinot Grigio, and the consensus favorite was the 2008 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio. Livio Felluga, the man, is considered the patriarch of viticulture and winemaking in the Friuli region of Italy. Founded in the 1950’s, the Livio Felluga estate covers more than 160 hectares. The Livio Felluga bottle features a distinctive map label that Livio Felluga himself created in 1956 to portray his love of the land.

Well, this was a first. As you’ll notice in the tasting notes below, we had three bottles of the exact same wine, the 2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, which is actually not that surprising considering that it is the most popular Italian Pinot Grigio sold in the United States. While the rankings were close, no one identified them as being the same wine. In fact, as you’ll see from the notes, they all tasted slightly different. Even after we unveiled them and re-tasted the three wines, we all thought that they tasted different. Even so, they were all good. Just one of the many things that keeps the world of wine interesting.

From 1st to last in the group consensus rankings:

2008 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio (Colli Orientali del Friuli, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy): Pale, greenish straw yellow in color. Very aromatic with white peach, nuts, and floral notes on the nose. Apple, peach, and almonds come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fine Wine & Cigars (Redmond, Washington), $24; Available elsewhere, $19 to $33

2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy): Pale, greenish straw yellow. Very aromatic with lime, Granny Smith apple, and grapefruit aromas. More citrus, apple, and pear flavors on the palate. Dry, medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing with a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Thriftway (Seattle, Washington), $25; Available elsewhere, $16 to $23

2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy): Pale straw yellow. Aromatic with lime, lemon, and apple on the nose; honey and some minerality on the palate. Dry, light to medium-bodied and viscous with crisp acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $23; Available elsewhere, $16 to $23

2008 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige, Italy): Pale yellow in color. Aromatic with nuts, lemon, and minerality on the nose. Apple and pear flavors dominate the palate. Dry and light to medium-bodied with lively acidity and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $13.50; Available elsewhere, $11 to $18

2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy): Pale yellow. Aromatic with tropical fruits, particularly pineapple, on the nose; citrus, lemon peel, and a hint of minerality on the palate. Dry, light to medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing with a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Whole Foods (Seattle, Washington), $20; Available elsewhere, $16 to $23

2008 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige, Italy): Pale, greenish straw yellow in color. Nose is a bit tight at first, and then some pear and apple aromas come through. More pear and nuts on the palate. Dry and light-bodied with lively acidity and a medium finish. A bit watery and plain.
Quality: 3 stars (out of five)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $15; Available elsewhere, $12 to $18

2009 Tramin Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige, Italy): Pale, greenish straw yellow in color. Fizzy citrus notes on the nose; apple, citrus and tropical fruits on the palate. Dry, light-bodied and tart with a long, bitter finish. Tastes carbonated. Not pleasant.
Quality: 2.5 stars (out of five)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
Where to buy: Whole Foods (Seattle, Washington), $16; Available elsewhere, $11 to $14


Filed under: Italian Wine, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Tasting Group, White Wine, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Stevie | September 3rd, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I’d never considered doing a comparitive tasting of pinots grigios. Thanks for the idea! You list several 2008 Santa Margherita Pinots Grigios, all from the same place. Is there a difference between the three? or are these all blind tastings of the same wine?

  2. Kori | September 3rd, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Stevie,
    Happy to help. :) Yes, the three Santa Margherita PG’s were the same. We didn’t know we had three of the same wine in the tasting until the end when we unveiled them. Since each group member brings a bottle consistent with the theme, no one knows all of the wines in the tasting until the end. This was the first time we’ve had three of the same wine though. However, it was interesting to note the variation from bottle to bottle. Cheers!

  3. Tammara Harsy | May 18th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I wish to show some appreciation to the writer just for rescuing me from this type of setting. Right after looking through the the web and meeting basics which were not productive, I figured my entire life was done. Being alive without the presence of answers to the problems you have sorted out as a result of the site is a crucial case, as well as the kind that could have adversely damaged my entire career if I hadn’t come across the blog. Your own knowledge and kindness in taking care of every item was helpful. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come upon such a solution like this. I am able to at this point look ahead to my future. Thanks for your time very much for the expert and result oriented guide. I will not hesitate to endorse your blog post to anyone who desires care about this matter.