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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Top Hat Chardonnay 2013

What exactly IS a top hat?  Where did top hats come from?

Well, as far as what it is … you can look at the art on the wine label to work that out.  Where they come from – that’s an interesting question.  Looks like they started out in the 1500’s in what is today the Netherlands.  Those hats – predecessors to today’s top hat – are commonly known as sugar loaf hats and were worn by men and women.  They also became part of the stereotypical  dress of the Puritans who emigrated from England to America (many via Holland).  It was in the late 1700’s that someone got the idea to cover them with silk.  And so the version we see in the picture here came into being – and fashion.  Primarily worn by men, the silk top hat was considered a statement of elegance in it’s heyday.  No longer a part of everyday attire, the silk top hat still retains an upper class vibe.  It has become associated with magic as well.  Stage magicians commonly use them to pull rabbits, doves, flowers, etc. out of.  Looks to me as though this Top Hat label might be suggesting a touch of viniferous magic.

Winemaker:  Top Hat
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  California
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  This Top Hat was pale yellow in the glass.  It had a pleasant bouquet with scents of golden apple and citrus accompanied by floral notes.  It was light-bodied, and I thought acidity fairly high.  Flavors were straightforward – toasty oak, citrus and wildflowers.  I was surprised the apple in the nose wasn’t reflected on the palate, but that may well have been a function of the acidity.  On the whole, I found it to be a pretty decent bottle of inexpensive Chardonnay.