Top Hat Pinot Grigio 2012

So … here’s the question.  Do you think California Pinot Grigio’s are generally as good as their Italian counterparts?

I took the time to look back and review my tasting notes of PGs to see if they might give me a clue as to my own thinking.  Remembering that I focus on inexpensive wines on this blog, it seems my experience suggests that the Californians still have some catching up to do.  That isn’t to say California wineries don’t make good Pinot Grigios.  In the value priced selections, however, I have evidently preferred the Italians.

Of course, that’s just one man’s limited experience.  If you have some suggestions for me as to Pinot Grigios I should sample, I’d be more than happy to hear about them.

Oenophilogical_TopHatPinotGrigio2012Winemaker: Top Hat
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: California
Price: $11.99

Notes: The wine was an extremely pale straw color with good acidity and 13.9% alcohol.  On the nose I encountered scents of citrus with warm spice notes.  It was very light-bodied, almost thin.  On the palate I tasted citrus, grass and touches of warm spice.  It was an okay PG, but I think there are less expensive options that are equal to this Top Hat and much more interesting selections in the same price range.

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Artisan Pinot Grigio 2012

I have to be honest: when I first started drinking wine, I didn’t particularly care for Pinot Grigio.  I think that may well have been because – as my wine-tasting palate was unaccustomed to finding the flavors in a wine – it was easier to detect the bigger, bolder, badder flavors in a Chardonnay, for example.  Now that I’ve had some years of sipping experience and exploration, I find myself enjoying many different varieties and styles of wine for what they bring to the table – whether a big mouthful of craziness or a more restrained expression of flavor.  Thus, I’ve made my peace with Pinot Grigio and the lighter whites.  In fact, I think I drink more PG than Chardonnay these days!

Oenophilogical_ArtisanPinotGrigio2012Winemaker:  Artisan
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: California
Price: $ 12.99

Notes:  At 13.9% alcohol, this Artisan PG can truly be considered dry.  It was characteristically light-bodied with nice bright acidity and a lovely lemon yellow in the glass.  Flavors I detected were tart citrus, toasty oak and some hints of spice.  It was a simple wine but enjoyable.  I can imagine it would make a nice choice to accompany a light meal  – an entree salad?

Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio 2012

This well-known Trader Joe’s brand simply must be a part of my tastings.  After all, this is a blog focusing on inexpensive wines.  While Charles Shaw can no longer be called Two Buck Chuck, it still sells at a very low price point.

Winemaker: Charles Shaw for Trader Joe’s
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: California
Price: $3.29 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass, this California PG was a light yellow color.  The bouquet was extremely faint – as in almost none.  So I’m not going to articulate specific scents this time around.  If you decide to take a whiff yourself, let me know what you think.  Alcohol was at 12.5%, the body was light with a pleasant gentle viscosity to it.  Acidity was fine.  Flavors I tasted included sweet pear and melon, grass, touches of oak, and a tad of a stony mineral to boot.  I thought it was pretty decent on the front side, but the finish was long.  That could be good except that the finish brought very present bitter grass and quinine to my palate.  Even the light sweetness couldn’t mitigate the bitter finish.  As a result, I will give this selection from the Charles Shaw shelves a pass next time I’m looking for a cheap Pinot Grigio.  I like bitter flavors but appreciate them in moderation.  If you like bitter flavors in abundance, this might work for you.  Especially considering the price.

 

Castello di Gabbiano Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2012

Back to the Italians for a pleasant, brisk white wine.  Yes, it’s a Pinot Grigio!

Winemaker:  Castello di Gabbiano
Wine:  Pinot Grigio delle Venezie
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Venezie IGT, Italy
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  On the nose I found citrus, pear and spice.  It was fairly light-bodied – appropriately so.  Flavors for me were an abundance of citrus, some creamy pear, spice notes and even a little hint of apple here and there.  On the finish I found a very present bitter grass with an underlying minerality.  Alcohol was at 12.5%.  Acidity was very good.  I can totally see this wine served up with a fish dish in a light sauce or perhaps a nice chicken piccata.

Lindeman’s Bin 85 2012

I’m taking a quick break from my Moscato experiments to drink some dryer offerings.  I think it was necessary.  Either that or my blood sugar was going to be off the chart.  I had the Jacob’s Creek PG not too long ago, so I thought I’d pull another ubiquitous Australian from the store shelves for comparison’s sake.

Winemaker: Lindeman’s
Wine:  Bin 85 Pinot Grigio
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Price: $6.99

Notes:  The color of this inexpensive Pinot Grigio was a very pale yellow.  On the nose, I found extremely faint scents of citrus and pear.  The body on this little number was very light.  Alcohol was at 11.5%, and acidity was quite good.  On the tongue, I found a core of grapefruit flavor that stayed from start to finish.  In addition, there were pleasant notes of pear and grass as well as hints of herbs along the way.  Accompanying the grapefruit across the palate was an underlying minerality – a counterpoint to the citrus.  Not surprisingly, the finish held a zip of grapefruit zest.  All this sounds like a glass of fermented grapefruit juice, but don’t be fooled.  Like the wine itself, the flavors are fairly subtle.  Although slightly favoring acidity over light sweetness, I found the balance in the Bin 85 to be quite good.  I thought this was a nice, brisk, refreshing wine from the folks at Lindeman’s.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Jacob’s Creek Pinot Grigio 2012

There are so many white wine options to choose from that my adventures with a Pinot Grigio in the glass have been fewer than say with a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.  I don’t have anything against the varietal, though, so I picked up this Australian PG to try on a warm summer evening.

2012Winemaker:  Jacob’s Creek
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  South Eastern Australia
Price:  $5.99

Notes:   The bouquet was interesting to me because not only was there citrus and lots of floral scent, it also seemed like it had some of the pollen, too.  The color of this inexpensive Jacob’s Creek PG was a very light straw.  It was a light-bodied wine with good acidity.  The label put the alcohol at 11.3%  Flavors for me were plenty of grass and citrus, mineral notes throughout, some citrus zest, and a light sweetness across the palate.  It was pleasant enough to sip and would make a fairly decent accompaniment with a light, white fish – no heavy spices or sauces, though.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio 2012

According to the Wine Institute and store shelves where I shop for wines, the popularity of Pinot Grigio has risen in recent years.  In an online article the Wine Institute states, “The acreage in California was reported at 2,692 in the year 2000 and has more than quadrupled in less than a decade to 12,907 acres in 2010 according to the most recent California Grape Acreage Report.”  Well, the folks at Gnarly Head are doing their part.  And doing it pretty well, too, I’d say.

Vineyard:  Gnarly Head
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  California
Price:  $13.99

Notes:  In the glass this wine was a very pale yellow.  The bouquet was so light I just barely caught fleeting whiffs of pear, apple and citrus.  The flavors, on the other hand, were present on the palate – including apple, pear and nectarine with touches of lemon, some honeysuckle notes, and grass on the end.  The finish is quite long: as the grass abates, citrus lingers.  As expected of a Pinot Grigio, the wine was fairly light-bodied but had a detectable viscosity.  Acidity was fine, and alcohol is at 13%.  This offering from Gnarly Head should pair nicely with most seafood dishes.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.