Last week, I took a look at value Pinot Grigios priced at $15 and under. Today, we turn the tables and look at a handful of wines that break through the $15 threshold.
Some of those value priced wines are just as good, albeit in a slightly different style, as many of these wines. The main difference is that if you were shopping blind, you would be much more likely to find a very good bottle of Pinot Grigio if you paid more for it. This is not a profound statement, I know, but it is one always worth remembering. Paying more for a bottle of wine does not guarantee a better bottle, but in the absence of other information, it should improve your odds of finding good wine blind.
What exactly is good wine? In the case of Pinot Grigio, the wine should exhibit fresh orchard fruits, apples, peach and maybe some apricot as well, all wrapped up in bright, citric acidity. The wine should also have something else to offer - mineral notes and perhaps a hint of nutty bitterness, plus spice or herbs to add complexity.
This line up of wines features some really lovely examples that are perfect for closing out a summer’s day or welcoming autumn as it marches toward us.
2011 Erste+Neue Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 13.5% $16
Very pure and precise on the nose with a gentle floral tone cut by decisive mineral notes and framed within slightly dried orchard fruit tones. Light and elegant on the palate with wonderful clarity and freshness in the mouth. This delivers very elegant citrus pith, lime peel and green pear flavors in a tight, mineral-wrapped package. The finish is long and very fine with real succulence and a subtle savory complexity. This is delicious. 91pts
2009 Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Pinot Grigio Collio 13.5% $26
This smells deeply of savory and salty things all mashed together with some kiwi, bitter melon and apple peels, topped with violet-like blue flowers. Big acid on entry leads the way to a rather well balanced mid-palate that is broad and just a bit hollow. The flavors are really well defined and clear, with a hint of dried herbs accenting the lemon, pineapple and melon fruit. This is precise and shows a chiseled profile, which is at times both cool and crisp before fading. An icy, understated finish leads to a final pop of sweet orchard fruit. Rather well built and elegant. 91pts
2011 Marco Felluga Mongris Pinot Grigio Collio 13% $17
Lovely aromatics see layers of dried citrus peels, mineral rich earth, orchard fruit peels, a bit of peach and a dusting of white pepper. Fairly rich in the mouth with some real depth here. The acidity is bright but well balanced by the richness of the wine and the deep flavors of apples are well spiced with both peppery and aromatic nuances. The finish shows excellent power and persistence with a long streak of lightly dried fruit, amply accented by continuing spice notes. Really solid showing. 90pts
2011 Castel Sallegg Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 14% $20
Quite aromatic and fruity, though this shows savory fruit with peppery top notes and a hint of pineapple ripeness. On the palate there is plenty of power here, and structure. This is, for lack of a better word, a serious Pinot Grigio that delivers great depth of flavors and impressive complexity with layers of earth, mineral, dried fruit and spice notes. One might think this is Pinot Gris, but the wine does show a bit of alcohol on the palate and the back end. The touch may not detract from the wine for most people but it does obscure some of the detail from the long and layered finish. 90pts
2011 Carr Turner Vineyard Pinot Gris Sta. Rita Hills 14% $18
Nutty and biscuity on the nose. This smells a lot like applesauce and Mini Wheats. Bright and rich in the mouth, this layers on plenty of intense apple and roasted pear fruit with nicely measured accents of toast and spice ending on a nicely mineral and dry finish. A big Pinot Gris with a lot of nuttiness married to a dry Alsatian flavor profile. This is powerful stuff. Break it out for goose or grilled fish. 89pts