I like pinot grigio. I’m not afraid to admit it.
I even like the cheap, quaffable pinot grigios that come in large bottles. Especially during our long, hot, South Carolina summers, when a reliable “porch wine” is absolutely necessary for survival.
I like Italian white wines in general, especially the light, refreshing, simple white wines like pinot grigio, Orvieto and Frascati (another F!). They don’t take themselves too seriously. Not meant for contemplation, they are meant for drinking and enjoying.
But pinot grigio (or pinot gris, as it is also known) does have a serious side, as Oregon and Washington wineries are proving now, and as Alsace has been doing for a long time. This mutation of pinot noir can make serious wine in the right place and with the right winemaking.
The place in Italy to look for good pinot grigio is Friuli, or officially, Friuli-Venezia Giulla. This is Northeast Italy, where it borders Austria. It makes sense that this cooler-climate area produces richer, more interesting wines from pinot grigio.
The wine I selected from this region was Primosic Pinot Grigio 2005 (Alfio Moriconi Selection, Total Wine & More, $9.99). It’s straw colored with a nose of apple, lemon and pear. It’s quite a mouthful for pinot grigio. Underneath the fruit is an earthy note along with some spice.
This wine is from the Friuli Isonzo, which is one of the numerous DOCs within Friuli. At this point, I have to make another plug for Italian Made. It is a very informative and cool resource about Italian food and wine.
Primosic is a family-owned winery, which produces some other whites, including another pinot grigio from the Collio DOC (another region within Friuli), a native varietal called ribolla gialla and a single-vineyard pinot grigio.
Friuli also produces some reds, mostly from merlot, cabernet franc and pinot nero. However, living in an area which doesn’t have a wide selection of Italian wines, I doubt I’ll ever find any.
And whatever you do, don't be the guy who, after I recommended a pinot grigio from Friuli, looked at the label and said, "Nah, it says it's fruity."
God, I don't miss retail.