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Varietal Classics: Pinot Grigio

Not the disaster of previous years, this most workmanlike of Varietal Classics delivered a suitably workmanlike performance 

To paraphrase the great PG Wodehouse, it’s not difficult to tell the difference between a ray of sunshine and a team of sommeliers faced with a flight of Pinot Grigio. But restaurant lists are not just about swanky bottles of Burgundy and single vineyard Champagne, as even our tasters reluctantly agree. Sometimes you have to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in there.

And so it was that teams of hardy tasters were loaded up with tedium shields and dispatched to forage for gold in the darkest recesses of the Pinot Grigio mines.

In the past, the New World has done quite well in this section (half the medals last year, the only Gold in 2011), so it was odd that this year it should bow out completely and leave the field entirely to the Italians who, let’s face it, haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory here. (Readers looking for New World examples will find them under Pinot Gris in the relevant Section.)

Our tasters might have come into this with low expectations, but although there wasn’t a lot to get excited about (I mean, this is Pinot Grigio for Pete’s sake), nor was the category the car crash of a few years ago.

Yes, our tasters had to dig pretty deep for decent wines, and yes, their tedium shields might have been tested to the maximum, but four medals isn’t a bad haul.

The problems? Some had minerality but no nose; others had aroma but not much length. But they were, at least, mostly cheap, which is what saved the wines that got medals. They were not, in other words, artists, but troopers doing a job.

Box ticked. Next…

‘£10 ex VAT for Pinot Grigio? I’d find it hard to convince anyone to pay those kind of prices…’
Alex Sergeant, the Harwood Arms