Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio. Same Grape, Different Taste!

I would have to say that currently Pinot Grigio is overtaking Chardonnay in Restaurants and Wine Bars across America as the number one consumed white wine. Pinot Gris (pronounced Pee-No- Greeee) was actually first discovered in Burgundy, France but most people know the grape from Alsace, France. The word Gris (Gree) means Grey in English because the grape variety has a greyish tinge to it. The Alsation Pinot Gris is rich, medium bodied and very silky and complex.

Above are 2 solid examples of Pinot Gris from Alsace. Trimbach is the big name from that region so you pay more for the name but I love the Paul Zinck Pinot Gris for almost $8.00 less per bottle and equal or better quality.

Anyone want to guess how to say the Grape Pinot Gris in Italian??? Pinot Greeeeeee??? Yes Pinot Grigio. Same Grape but totally different styles. Forbes Magazine was quoted as saying, “At some point due to the marketing of these products, all white wine drinkers have tasted the mass produced Santa Margherita and Ecco Domani (Gallo) Pinot Grigios. I hope you all have grown up and have gotten past that point” In 1992, Tony Terlato from Terlato International brought in Santa Margherita into the United States from the Alto Adige region of Northeastern Italy before Pinot Grigio was ever popular in the USA. The wine is not even 100% Pinot Grigio for starters. Hats off to Mr Terlato as Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is the #1 selling Pinot Grigio in America. I repeat, IN AMERICA. Most Sommeliers like myself are not big fans. Every person has a different palate but no one ever picks this wine in a blind tasting when they don’t see the label and as we have discussed the vintage or year is the most important factor in the Wine Industry! No one ever orders or purchases that wine by the year. Marketing has just told their frontal lobes that this is their favorite Pinot Grigio. It costs a pretty penny to drink what is perceived as the greatest Pinot Grigio. Average Retail is $20 a bottle. Average per glass price in a Restaurant or Wine Bar is $12 a glass. Average Bottle Price in a Restaurant or Wine Bar is $50 per bottle!! This is Pinot Grigio Folks, not Liquid Gold!. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Magazine refuses to review this wine. Wine Spectator stopped reviewing this wine in 2006. The 2006 vintage of Santa Margherita scored it’s highest from James Suckling who at the time was covering Italian Wines for Wine Spectator, which he awarded a horrible 82 Points with this verbatim review: “Has some citrus and honey character. Medium-bodied, with a light finish. Not much to this. Drink now. 165,000 cases made. –JS”

NOT MUCH TO THIS and it costs $20 per bottle???
If you like the Italian Style Pinot Grigio here is in my opinion, a much better and affordable option:

The Real Live Princess Isabella Collalto in Venezie produces one of my favorite Pinot Grigios, Italian Style. Very rich, crisp apples and citrus and a hint of banana on the finish especially on the 2011 vintage. $12.99 people…Not per glass for the whole entire bottle RETAIL. Collalto Pinot Grigio is in a class all of it’s own and a selection of my favorite Italian Importer Nadia Galati in the State of Florida. If you like Italian Style Pinot Grigios seek out a Retailer in your local state and ask for Collalto.

What is this you are asking? Pinot Grigio from the state of California. Yes, in California they produce Pinot Gris in the Italian Dry Style so they label it Pinot Grigio. In California only 75% quantity of the grape that is listed on the front of the label has to be in the bottle. Odds are that their Pinot Grigios are not 100% Pinot Gris and blended with other grapes. This doesn’t make the wines bad but still not my favorite.
In 1966 David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards in Oregon planted the first Pinot Gris grapes in the State. If I didn’t mention it before in other blogs, Pinot Gris is a mutation of the Red Grape Pinot Noir. No wonder I love anything that starts with the word PINOT from the State of Oregon. In 1991 The King Family from Eugene, Oregon Introduced King Estate Pinot Gris and today they still are a very consistent producers of Pinot Gris and readily available everywhere and on Restaurant Wine Lists everywhere. It’s a good product in most vintages at a fair price.

The Momtazi Family from Maysara Winery in McMinnville, Oregon produces great Pinot Noirs and a really good Pinot Gris. Almost every Oregon Producer of Pinot Noir Produces a solid Pinot Gris. Some names to look out for A-Z Wineworks, Ponzi, Chehalem, Adelsheim, Benton Lane, Yamhill Valley Vineyards, and King Estate

In 2010 The Oregonian the newspaper in Oregon called the 2010 Vintage of the Pappas Pinot Gris, “The Best White Wine To Have In A Hot Weather Climate” I couldn’t agree more…UNTIL, I tasted the 2011 Vintage of The Pappas Wine Company Pinot Gris. The Pappas Wine Company is an entry price level winery operated by husband and wife winemaking team Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas of Boedecker Cellars. My Blog is full of their names and I have done many video reviews of their wines. I love their stuff and the price is right!. The 2011 is my favorite Oregon Pinot Gris that I have tasted to date. It exhibits a pretty nose of pears, apples, citrus and white flowers. On the palate the 2011, is so refreshing and silky with a finish of melon flavors just like that light orange tropical lifesaver candy that I used to fight my friends for!!. This wine is a $15 gem.

The most interesting fact about this blog to sum things up is that it has been against the law in the State Of Oregon to Label Pinot Gris as Pinot Grigio. That law changed 2 years ago but I still have not seen a bottling from Oregon that isn’t labeled Pinot Gris. They also don’t blend Pinot Gris with any other grape varietals so you are getting 100% Pinot Gris. Oregon Pinot Gris is as close to the wines from Alsace but I think lighter and more refreshing. Both the Italian styles and California styles are much more drier and acidic. Remember: PINOT GRIS/ PINOT GRIGIO….SAME GRAPE, DIFFERENT TASTE. Pick up a bottle of Pinot Gris from Oregon and see if you “A-GRIS” (GREEEEEEEEEEEE)

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