Posted by: tomciocco | May 20, 2013

THE BLUSHING FACE OF PINOT GRIGIO

It’s a secret to almost no one that drinks wine that Italy produces lakes of Pinot Grigio, traditionally out of the northeastern regions of Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Friuli Venezia Giulia. But more recently, due to the market’s nearly insatiable thirst for the stuff, Pinot Grigio vines can now be found growing in vineyards in nearly every region of the Bel Paese. And though Italy has been in my estimation the European country that has been the most receptive to foreign (read “mostly French”) vine varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Alsace’s Pinot Gris (or most correctly Burgundy’s Pinot Beurot, but that’s a whole other post) is by far the most ubiquitous of the lot.

The second word in the name Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio means “grey” in French and Italian respectively, and this refers to the fact that the skin of this variety has a distinctly dusty pale reddish color, which always comes as a surprise to drinkers who know Pinot Grigio as nothing other than a strictly white wine. Another little known fact is that with just a few exceptions ALL grapes, whether they have the deepest purple skins or the palest whitish green ones, have “white” juice, meaning that white wine can be made from even deeply pigmented varieties like Corvina or Merlot or Tempranillo, provided that their skins are separated immediately from their juice.

So what we’ve got here this evening is a light pink Pinot Grigio from Emilia-Romagna’s Colli Piacentini appellation whose color is the result of just a few handfuls of hours of juice/skin contact…but that’s not all. In addition to this Pinot Grigio being pink, it’s also vivaciously sparkling! This grape performs so successfully as both a rose`and a spritzy wine, it’s nearly shocking that more producers don’t take one or both of these options more often…Strange indeed, but until then, take some time to find a couple of these rare examples, and enjoy what I think is the best this variety has to offer.

I served this spunky but still very elegant wine with a traditional Italian rice salad studded with celery, yellow peppers, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, olives, capers, parsley, lemon juice, mayo, etc. and then herbed, fried chicken cutlets with a side of piquant and slightly spicy Borlotti beans.

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Lusenti Colli Piacentini Pinot Grigio “Fiocco di Rose” 2011

Very pale, slightly coppery salmon color. Pretty nose of strawberry, raspberry jam, grapefruit, light spice, cracker, ground pinoli nuts, and dried lilac.Very fine and intense bubbles permeate a solid, freshly acidic, and  minerally frame that pops with flavors of peach skin, melon, and hints of blackberry with underlying notes of boiled peanuts. Long and very fresh pleasantly bitterish finish.

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