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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pinot Grigio Uncorked: 2009 Banfi San Angelo

Is it Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio? Good question, so in this review, I will attempt to answer the age old ponderment; "to Gris or not to be Grigio, that is the question"

This review will also revolve around the wonderful grape variety that can be confusing to some, as you will find that the same grape has two different names and brings with it two different styles of wine, but not quite as bad as the differences of calling your friend Richard, while everyone else calls him Dick and then having to explain that no Richard and Dick really are the same person.

If you would like to learn more about "what-came-first-dick-or-dick" and how Richard became Dick, well click on that link above to get "the straight dope" on the history of dick! If you are wondering how the "bleep" I went down the rabbit trail, well I'm not sure, but you may want to ask Peter.

In the wine review spotlight today is another wonderful wine [San Angelo Pinot Grigio] from Tuscany, one of my favorite places in the world. Yes, your beloved wine reporter here, actually made the journey there last year. It's as fantastic as the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun" conjures in ones mind about the beautiful Tuscan countryside. The cities, well that's is a different story and not as idyllic as one may want to imagine them to be, but "none-the-less" that's is a story for another day onward and upward.

Identity Crisis: I say Pinot Gris and you say Pinot Grigio; is this "You say tomato, I say tomahto" debate or are they actually the same white grape? Well yes and no, how's that for a politically expedient answer? Yes it's the same grape, 
just with two different names and also two different styles and as a wine consumer it's important to note these differences, so you can make smart shopping and food pairing decisions.

Gris vs Grigio: So what you will typically find is that in Italy and their New World counterparts here in California will label the bottle Pinot Grigio, while in Oregon [which I've dubbed Oregundian] and France's Alsace region it's known as Pinot Gris. Many other countries will use the terms interchangeably depending on the style. As you may have guessed the Pinot Grigio grape is in essence a white mutation of the very popular Pinot Noir grape [which is very much like the Cab Sauv. and Sauv. Blanc relationship].

Pinot Scoop: I want to help you keep your Pinot's straight,  so please take note of this important distinction, which is Pinot Blanc is not the same as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. Pinot Blanc is a further mutation of the Pinot Boir grape and a story by itself, for another time.

Stylistic Differences: What you are going to find across the board is that most if not all the Pinot Grigio wines created in Italy tend to be typically dry [not sweet with low RS] and light, with a mineral taste to it. On the flip side of the coin, [speaking in general terms] Californian variants of Pinot Grigio tend to be richer and lemony or citrusy in flavor, but still have the mineral finish [no blanket statements here].

Now for our French friends and their New World counterpart in Oregon who label their bottles Pinot Gris [off-dry, higher RS] whose wines tend to come from the Alsace region, along the German/French border, while Oregon PG can be found mostly from wineries of the Willamette Valley. Stylistically these wines are more fruity and flowery than their Italian counterparts, aromas can range from peach to grapefruit to melon, even though they still have minerality characteristics.

What to Pair: Such a great alternative to a California Chardonnay, you will find that Pinot Grigio pairs well with a large variety of light dishes that are still on the "thick" side, like chicken in a rich white sauce, or eggplant with heavy spices and is is able to hold its own against richer flavors. Best served chilled and kept in a cold sleeve to maximize your enjoyment. Conversely, if you find yourself in a spicy situation food wise, just adjust your choice a little and grab yourself some Alsatian Pinot Gris, that RS [residual sugar] will put the fire out and the acidity will refresh you palate clearing the way like a cleansing agent to allow all those brilliant spicy flavors come through again and again.

First Swirl: After pouring it my glass and allowing it to warm a bit, I found it to have a pale straw colored core with greenish hues reaching out toward a watery rim.

First Sniff: Big, bright and beaming with tropical fruit and flowery aromas, just delightful.
First Slurp: After taking a big slurp of this lightly chilled Pinot Grigio, I found it brimming with green apple and tropical fruit flavors, which nicely quenched my thirst, while the firm acidity, white flowers and citrus give it nice overall balance.

Price and Purchase: This wine has a SRP of $17 and can be found at your local BevMo or other locations online as well, like the folks over at winedotcom selling it nearly $3 higher than the SRP. But hey, they will throw in shipping for a flat fee of $18.95 for a years worth of shipping.
Other Voices: The Wine Curmudgeon had this to say about this very good example of Itailian Pinot Grigio; "The San Angelo was quite a pleasant surprise. It didn't have the turpentine-like aromas and flavors that so many less expensive Italian pinot grigios have." Okay not quite the ringing endorsement, but even RP gave their 2007 90 points.

Full Disclosure: Yes, folks this was another sample sent to the CCWB for the review process and as I've said before it retails for about $17, if you are curious about the review process please click the tab to the right of the screen you're viewing this review on.
Score and Recommendation: So hey what's the score, the question many want to scroll down to see before you read on, I gave it 91 point voluptuous points and my recommendation is to have a case of this wine in your home at all times. Great flavors, harmonious with many food choices and easy on the wallet, what else could you ask for in an everyday value. So what are you waiting for pick up those keys and head down to your favorite wine store and get yourself some, until next times cheers everyone!

Supporting Video: Now I didn't choose this video because it describes the wine above, but gives you again the gist in just about a minute about the stylistic differences between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. So give it a swirl and let me know what you think, cheers!

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