Varietal Classics: Pinot Grigio
Only one Gold, but much more positive feedback in 2012 from the tasters about this must-stock category
Our tasters at the Sommelier Wine Awards might view tasting this flight with all the enthusiasm of turkeys watching the calendar tick down to Christmas, but there’s no denying that ‘the Gridge’ is still a big and easy-seller with the public, making this one of the most interesting – and eagerly awaited categories – of the competition. The merchants know it, too, which explains why entries were up 50% on last year.
In the past the Varietal Classic Pinot Grigio category has been hugely inconsistent. There were two Golds and a slew of Silvers two years ago – yet it was a total disaster last year, with one solitary (Chilean) Gold and the tasters practically apoplectic about what they were seeing.
This year might have yielded only one wine for the Gold List (the well-priced Castel Firmian from Mezzacorona), but there was a decent spread of supporting medals as well. And, crucially, the feedback was a lot more positive this year.
The Italian entries – all with those classic lighter pear and white stone fruit flavours – were clean, fresh and generally decent. They didn’t necessarily get significantly better as they went up the price scale, with most of the rewarded wines at the lower end, where ‘light and fresh’ was the order of the day. ‘People in the business are often quite rude and think people who drink Pinot Grigio are stupid. But people who drink it know exactly what they’re doing and they don’t want a big, in-your-face wine,’ said consultant Peter McCombie MW.
The New World entrants (a growing percentage of the category) were rather richer – more about strudel, nectarines and spice. Gris rather than Grigio, if you like.
‘Even the cheapest ones had good texture,’ said Hakkasan’s Roberto Loppi. ‘It’s quite a rich grape and it shouldn’t be too light or too simple. Even with residual sugar, they were not too flowery. New Zealand Pinot Gris can be very versatile with Asian foods.’
So, general warmth rather than outright enthusiasm, but our Gold List Co-ordinator, Christine Parkinson of Hakkasan, was adamant that we needed a well-priced PG.
‘Consumers all go looking for it, so you have to give them one at the right price,’ she said. And at about £24 on the list, the Mezzacorona has ‘cash cow’ written all over it.
‘I think consumers are aware of the differences between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. The New World entries were more full bodied than Pinot Grigio.’ Taskin Muzaffer, Drake & Morgan