$20 Pinot Grigio

Grigio or Gris, does it really make a difference it’s just Pinot Grigio after all.


To a certain extent there is a general sentiment that Pinot Gris(gio) of a certain price has two responsibilities; and those at a lesser price need share in only the primary responsibility and that is to be refreshing. With the exception of Alsace Pinot Gris, which can often be refreshing but are just built within a different paradigm in mind,  and will be examined in the near future. Call your wine what you will, make it fruity or earthy, do what you may, but just remember the salient point here.

Refresh me!

You know who’s refreshing me? My friends in Italy are going to be decidedly upset with me but it’s the folks up in Oregon, that’s who. They not only dominated this small tasting in four of the top five positions, but the two top wines both hail from the Dundee Hills. That is crushing it.

And the second responsibility of Pinot Grigio? Well that’s the second responsibility of all wine, which is to be delicious, and that’s where things get to be a bit subjective. Some of these wines were in fact filled with delicious fruit, but others reached deeper and got their hooks into me with their minerality and subtle, savory complexity. The bottom line though, is that many of these wines,and certainly the top half dozen do much more than one might expect from a Pinot Grigio or Gris. Perhaps it’s time to begin to re-examine our vinous prejudices and take a more honest look at what’s in the bottle, as opposed to on the label.

Which brings me a final point here. I used to suggest to people that bottles labeled Pinot Grigio were emulating the well known, light and zesty Italian style of producing this wine while bottles with Pinot Gris on the label were following the Alsatian example. I do not believe this to be true any longer. I believe regions such as Oregon have adopted a convenient nomenclature with each winery choosing for themselves the most appropriate stylistic path. Don’t worry what the labels say folks, just buy a couple and you’ll find one that you like. Simple as that and a classic herb roasted and lemon scented chicken to pair with your gris(gio) should make for a fabulous dinner.

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Top $20 Pinot Grigio Tasted 9/2013

Alexana Pinot Gris Revana Vineyard (2011)
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Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris (2011)
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St. Magdelena Pinot Grigio Alto Adige It (2012)
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Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley (2011)
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Sokol Blosser Willamette Valley Pinot Gris Case Of (2011)
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La Crema Monterey Pinot Gris (2012)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 833

    I started drinking Pinot Gris several years ago when I realized that I had been drinking many of them in the past but under the name Rulander and Grauer Burgunder (Germany). I liked the German version, so why not try the domestic ones. Nice discovery.

    Oct 03, 2013 at 4:28 PM

  • Snooth User: North of 50
    1104747 38

    Fantastic grape in the Northwest, whatever presentation (if well made). Try out some Canadian versions as it seems to be one varietal that expresses very well in the Cold North! Gray Monk or 'See Ya Later Ranch' for slightly more Alsatian style, not sweet, but bigger mouth feel, slightly oilier, a tinge of rose or Kettle Valley and Burrowing Owl for a leaner, crisper style. Seared scallops with a Champagne/blood orange beurre blanc......

    Oct 04, 2013 at 10:53 AM

  • Snooth User: SM
    1097030 218

    I believe as wine drinkers we have to keep challenging & growing our palate and not stay inside our safety zone too much otherwise we lose out to what all the options are.

    Yes Northern Italy and Alsace are supposedly the "home" of Pinot Gris/Grigio but you can find good interpretations of it anywhere. I am glad that Zuiko talked about Grauburgunder from Germany as there are some good bottles to found there; though it can be hit & miss sometimes.

    Reading North of-50 comments about Canadian versions is very interesting as there one of the wineries Pinot Gris is called Gray Monk, which could link back to Szürkebarát which is the Hungarian name for the varietal.

    Hungary does have some rather amazing versions of this especially from around the Balaton Lake regions which have fantastic terrior coupled together with a unique lake climate.

    So yes do enjoy Pinot Gris from Alsace, Alto Adige, Oregon, Washington; but also do yourself a favor and be bold and brave so that you can experience the full spectrum of the wonderful world of Pinot Gris/Grigio.


    Solomon Mengeu

    Oct 04, 2013 at 11:48 PM

  • Have any of you tried the Pinot Gris from The Four Graces? It's a Willamette Valley vineyard that also has a lovely Pinot Noir. Can't wait to try some of these suggesons as well!

    Oct 07, 2013 at 12:27 AM

  • Snooth User: BuzzMaster
    531136 14

    Yes, in fact I had the Four Graces just tonight. Nicely balanced and an especially clean finish. Wife and I both enjoyed. In our opinion above average based on a number of tastings this week in the Dundee area. We will try some of the others on this list too.

    Oct 08, 2013 at 10:39 PM

  • Snooth User: Saffredi
    729598 151

    I have to admit that I have never had the opportunity to taste any P.G. from the U.S., though I did try them from Australia. That was quite disappointing!
    For me the best dry P.G. come from Italy: Alto Adige (Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof P.G. 2011) and (the best I ever had) Friuli Venezia Giulia (Vie di Romans Dessimis, esp. the 2009 vintage!).

    Oct 27, 2013 at 9:23 AM

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