Revisiting Pinot Grigio's Range

Tasting notes and 8 top picks


Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris. We’ve talked about the wines before and in all honesty it can get boring to talk about Pint Gris, unless you shake things up a bit.

Most of us instinctively turn toward Italy to get our Grigio fix, a reaction that has been beaten into us through incessant advertising and media placements. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no great Grigio in Italy (after all my top scoring wines and best value both come from Italy), but what I will say is that the supply of good Italian Pinot Grigio far outstrips the demand.

So other than saying that there’s a ton of crappy Italian Pinot Grigio floating around out there, what does that mean?

Photo courtesy KimMcKelvey via Flickr/CC

Click here for slideshow of 8 Top Pinot Grigios

Well for starters, it means that we all should be looking around to see where else you can get a good Gris. Of course Alsace, the grape’s homeland, is one of the first places to turn to, though the wines are made in a distinctly different style.

Nothing wrong with that, but it can throw a person for a loop if they’re expecting light and crisp. In this roundup of Grigios, I’ve tasted wines from Italy, Oregon, France, Washington, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. Once you get away from some of the simplest platitudes, I think you’ll begin to discover that Pinot Grigio/ Pinot Gris is starting to get the respect it deserves from winemakers around the globe. This was a surprisingly complex and interesting set of wines.

I found many that I enjoyed and was particularly impressed with the wines from Oregon, which managed to span almost the entire stylistic spectrum from light and elegant to powerful and rich. As admirable an achievement as that might be, therein lies onee of the problems for Pinot Gris, particularly in Oregon.

I call this problem the Riesling effect. Riesling has never exploded on the retail scene, primarily because you never know what you’re going to taste when you pop the cork. Riesling runs the gamut from bone dry to cloyingly sweet. If there are so many styles of Pinot Gris in the market that admittedly range only from dry to light sweet, but are made in different styles that are indiscernible from the label, you’re just asking for trouble.

The fact that Italian Pinot Grigio became a certain, almost singular, style contributed greatly to the rise of this relatively ordinary wine. People knew what they were buying. People had confidence in the product. No matter how good the wines of Oregon become, they will always fight an uphill battle if they don’t do a better job of identifying the styles of the Pinot Gris.

Okay, off the soapbox, end of rant and back to the wines because let me tell you, this was the most impressive lineup of Pinot Grigios I’ve had in a long time!

Click here for slideshow of 8 Top Pinot Grigios

1 2 3 next

Mentioned in this article


  • This is akin to ranking the top 5 fast food restaurants. Plonk. Viognier is a much more interesting white grape, if we take white burgundy off the table.

    Jun 23, 2011 at 12:24 PM

  • I've had the Ponzi and the Terlano, and they are both very good.

    Jun 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM

  • st Vineyards pinot gris 08 won double gold at NW wine show in Portland - best pinot gris and best white wine in show with almost 500 wineries participating. The grapes come from WyEasts own WyEast Vineyard at an elevation of 1300 to almost 1800 ft and the high acid brought on by cooler nights - and the increased minerality makes from an extraordinary pour. Grapes from that same vineyard in the hands of master winemaker Peter Rossback received a slightly different twist and produced a bottling that was selected by Gourmet Mag as one of the top value wines available in the nation.

    Jun 23, 2011 at 9:18 PM

  • While I agree that the average Viognier is a more interesting drink than the average Gris, I've enjoyed the best pinot gris more than the best Viogniers. But of course - wine tasting is - above all - a personal experience.

    Jun 23, 2011 at 9:21 PM

  • Snooth User: WineIsYummy
    Hand of Snooth
    615722 242

    I would suggest trying the De Bortoli DB Family Selection Pinot Grigio. You can find for it about $9 and its an excellent value for the quality of wine in the bottle!! Great summertime wine! :p

    Jun 24, 2011 at 2:33 PM

  • good one

    Sep 24, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network