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Wine

Best Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio, which is a classic Italian grape, is commonly grown in France, Italy, and the New World.  In France and the New World, it can also go by the name Pinot Gris. These grapes are genetically similar to Pinot Noir grapes, and are believed to be a genetic mutation. Though it wasn't a particularly popular wine a few years ago, over the last decade it has gained considerable popularity and is a great alternative to overly acidic Sauvignon Blanc or rich Chardonnay.

Typically, Pinot Grigios are delicate wines that can be clean and dry or fruit-forward. Dry, crisp Pinot Grigios are produced by harvesting the grapes early, before the sugars are able to fully develop, while off-dry, fruity Pinots are produced by leaving the grapes on the vines for a little extra time. This varietal is known for complex aromatics that often include tropical fruit and white flowers, and a delicate taste with notes of fresh fruit. The acidity is usually fairly high, though less pronounced in sweeter wines, especially on the finish.

Willamette Valley Pinot Gris '12

Willamette Valley Pinot Gris '12

Our favorite Pinot Grigio that's sold for under $20 comes from Willamette Valley. This wine has won a number of awards, including the Silver Medal at the Oregon Wine Awards. The 2012 vintage of this wine has crisp flavors of anise and lemongrass, and a rich aroma with notes of pear, honeysuckle, and toasted almond. The acidity is well-balanced, with a tartness that doesn't overwhelm the sweeter notes. The finish is bright, crisp, and quite light. Though this is a soft, delicate wine, it's bold enough to stand up to a couple years in the cellar and will still be at its peak through 2015.

Barrymore Pinot Grigio

Barrymore Pinot Grigio

Though she's primarily known for her acting career, Drew Barrymore is making a name for herself as a burgeoning winemaker. Barrymore Pinot Grigio, which is made from grapes grown in northern Italy, is light, crisp, and well-balanced. Though it features a dry minerality, there's still plenty of fruit in this wine, with notes of apricot and citrus. With wine critic ratings in the 90s, Barrymore Pinot Grigio is a well-made wine that pairs well with seafood and pasta dishes.

Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio

Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio

One of California's most well-known wineries produces an excellent Pinot Grigio at a great price. Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio is one of our Best Picks because it's delicate, complex, and a great deal. This wine has notes of citrus, mineral, and white fruit. It's crisp and very dry, with a high acidity that's makes it ideal with seafood dishes. The current release, the 2012, is also one of the best in recent years, since there was plenty of sun and mild weather that helped the grapes develop a lot of flavor without a lot of sugar.

Fratelli Pinot Grigio

Fratelli Pinot Grigio

Made in Venezia, a part of Italy that's known for it's well-balanced, fruit-forward Pinot Grigios, Fratelli Pinot Grigio is one of our Best Picks. This wine has notes of melon and citrus on the tongue, and a hint of lemon on the nose. Though there's plenty of crisp citrus to this wine, this is one of the lightest Pinots around. Since it's so subtle, you'll definitely want to serve it chilled to around 50 degrees. Any colder, and you'll have a hard time picking out the subtle complexity of this wine.

Settecieli Pinot Grigio '12

Settecieli Pinot Grigio '12

A favorite with wine enthusiasts and wine critics, Settecieli Pinot Grigio '12 is an excellent, incredibly crisp wine. From the Umbria region of Italy, this wine has been crafted using traditional Italian techniques that have made this varietal popular around the world. It's aged in steel and taken off the skins immediately, allowing the qualities of grapes to shine through. There's not much fruit to this wine, just a little hint of apple. Instead, it features strong flavors of stone. This minerality makes it perfect to pair with shellfish. Since this is such a clean, crisp wine, it can be hard to pick out the subtle flavors so be sure not to serve it too cold.

Duck Pond Cellars Pinot Gris '11

Duck Pond Cellars Pinot Gris '11

Hands down, Duck Pond Cellars Pinot Gris '11 is one of the best Pinots to come out in recent years. It performed very well in last year's competitions, receiving no less than a dozen awards, including the Gold Medal at the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition. This wine is crisp and clean on the palate, with a bold nose of tropical fruit and flowers. It's a little on the acidic side, which makes it ideal for serving with shellfish. Most of the batch is fermented in steel, which brings out the subtleties of the grapes, while a small portion is fermented in oak to give the wine greater complexity and more body. This wine is best served chilled, though it's much better if it's not ice cold.

Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio '11

Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio '11

A rich, deeply complex wine, Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio '11 is an incredible wine. At first glance, you'll notice a hint of green to the straw-yellow wine, a color that signifies that this wine comes from pale grapes, rather than the rich gray grapes that are more commonly grown. This wine is incredibly fruit-forward, with notes of peach and banana on the nose, as well as more subtle aromas of toasted hazelnuts, honey, and caramel. A rich flavor of ripe melon predominates at first, though as it nears the finish, the sweetness evaporates and you're left with a wine that's crisp and dry. This complex wine is perfect when paired with fish, though it's also bold enough to hold up to egg and poultry dishes.

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Valdadige D.O.C.

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Valdadige D.O.C.

Trentino, Italy is famous for producing some of the world's best Pinot Grigio and one of our favorites to come out of this region in recent years is Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Valdadige D.O.C. This is a non-vintage wine that's a favorite for its classic style and great consistency. The winemakers at Santa Margherita have been making Pinot Grigio since 1961, and have perfected the art of crafting a crisp, clean wine. Though it's made from gray grapes that could lend a touch of rose coloration to the wine, this one is a perfectly light straw yellow. This wine has an incredibly fragrant bouquet and a clean, acidic flavor that allows it to pair well with seafood and other light meals. Since this is an incredibly popular wine, it's also relatively easy to find at both specialty wine shops and large grocery or liquor stores.

Greywacke Pinot Gris '13

Greywacke Pinot Gris '13

If you're looking for a wine that offers the full amount of flavor that pinot grigio is capable of, look no further than Greywacke Pinot Gris '13. The grapes used in this wine are allowed to fully ripen, making this a little sweeter than many pinot grigios. The wine features aromas of white fruit and spice with just a hint of smoke. It has flavors of stone fruit and citrus and a slight minerality that remains on the tongue for a long time. Though this wine is incredibly complex, it is still soft and subtle, true to the nature of the grapes.

Luisi Pinot Grigio '12

Luisi Pinot Grigio '12

Made in northern Italy, where Pinot Grigio got it's name, Luisi Pinot Grigio '12 is one of the best around. This wine has scored in the high 80's and low 90's with professional critics and embodies all the best qualities of this soft, subtle wine. It features notes of tropical fruit and flowers, with just a touch of sweet nectarine on the finish. Since there is a little bit of residual sugar in this wine, it's not as dry as many other Pinot Grigios. This makes it the ideal counterpart to a spicy curry dish.

Crystal Beran
Crystal Beran has spent the past 10 years immersed in the exciting and delicious world of food and drink. She has honed her cooking skills as a baker, a caterer, and a personal chef, and currently spends a good deal of her time training the next generation of young chefs. Her work as a wine steward has helped her to develop a discerning palate and a love of excellent wines from all over the world. Over the years, she has had the good fortune to visit wineries in Northern California, Tanzania, France, and Italy. In her spare time, she brews beer and invents delectable dishes to share with friends, family, and students.
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