Wine Sipper - June 23, 2004 

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is the Italian counterpart to France's Pinot Gris, and while they are the same grape (a grayish-blue colored variety related to Pinot Noir) the wines they produce can be very different. In France, the region best known for Pinot Gris is Alsace--here the wines are usually on the richer end of the scale. In Italy, the tendency is to pick before full ripeness, resulting in a crisper, more refreshing style. Wineries in California and the Northwest typically label their offerings according to this stylistic difference. We tried a number of American produced Pinot Grigio, most conforming to the Italian model. Here are the panel's top three picks:

2003 Estancia Pinot Grigio, $11.99

Lovely honeydew melon, kiwi and spicy apple aromas, with touches of herb and graham cracker. On the richer side of the Pinot Grigio scale, but the ripe apple and sweet citrus flavors are nicely balanced by crisp acidity throughout. A real hit with all the tasters.

2003 Hogue Pinot Grigio, $7.49

Fresh and appealing aromas of kiwi, vanilla, honeyed apple and alfalfa. The flavors are a well-balanced mix highlighted by lovely apricot, kiwi and citrus. The finish is bright but supple with nice touches of vanilla and honey playing against tangy, ripe lemon flavors. An incredible bargain from this Washington state winery.

2003 McManis Pinot Grigio, $8.99

This California winery has quickly established a reputation for producing top quality, value priced wines, and their Pinot Grigio is no exception. Opens with creamy peach and melon aromas along with enticing hints of mint and nutmeg. An almost silky mouth feel with nice peach and pear fruit flavors backed by crisp citrus on the finish.

This week's panel: Fawn Caveney, Tastevin; Dave Faulk, Porterhouse Meats; Marshall Garrett, Bardenay; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op; Cindy Limber, Bardenay.

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