One thing you learn quickly when you get to taste as many wines as I do is that there is only a loose correlation between price and quality. Paying more for a wine certainly doesn’t guarantee a better wine, but when you move from one price point to another you can at least hope that the average score of the relative groups will justify the price differential.
With Pinot Grigio, that is certainly true. This group of wines, ranging from just under $10 to about $15, is really a nice representation of what to expect at this price point. There are a few winners, wines that can easily compete with bottles costing 50 percent more, but there are also a lot of duds here. Sometimes when we spend a little less hoping to save money, we end up with a lot less wine for our money. Shop carefully and you’ll see that there are many values to be found in Pinot Grigio under $15 a bottle.
These wines are bursting with the trademark fresh fruit and bright character we all love in our Pinot Grigio. Even some $10 bottles can be delicious, but at this price point there are too many pitfalls to ignore, so shop carefully!
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2011 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio Valdadige 12.5% $15
Softly fragrant on the nose with some light herb spice notes accenting the apricot, lime pith and heirloom apple fruit. Very clear and fresh in the mouth with integrated acidity supporting a slightly rounded mouthfeel. There’s plenty of fresh fruit here, simple and pure with notes of pear and apricot brightening with a touch of lime pith on the back end. This is a modestly rich, nicely dry example of Pinot Grigio with some really attractive mineral and almond notes adding detail to the moderately long finish. This is rather refined and complex for Pinot Grigio. 89pts
2011 Willow Crest Pinot Gris Yakima Valley 13% $15
Hugely aromatic with some sulfur that needs to blow off. Under that this has intense citrus, passion fruit and melon aromas. Nicely balanced in the mouth and a bit towards the round side of things but with nice cut and a light mineral edge to the fruit. The intensity found on the nose does not quite translate to the palate, though this does have a lovely tangerine, honeydew and lightly exotic tropical fruit profile which is delightful if not terribly varietal. More apple fruit pops on the back end and settles in on the moderately long finish. This is a lovely rendition of Pinot Gris. 89pts
2010 Bargetto Regan Vineyard Pinot Grigio Santa Cruz Mtns 14.5% $15
Dry and dusty on the nose with lots of apple core and mineral aromas topped with a little sage and sorrel herbiness. Dry, small-scaled and precise on entry, this is a nicely scaled wine with richness and good acidity lending excellent balance. The flavors run towards Asian pear and heirloom apples here, with a little cashew thrown in for good measure. This finishes cleanly with more orchard fruit flavors that gain a light sweetness. 87pts
2011 Santi Sortesele Pinot Grigio Delle Venezia 12.5% $12
Light and fresh on the nose with a mineral water top note over a nice base of citrus and green apple with a hint of peach. There’s plenty to like here with juicy, mouthwatering acidity balanced by an edge of fleshiness. Succulent flavors of green apple, dried lemon pith and a touch of apricot all come together on the palate and play out on the rather long finish, which shows slight sweetness balancing out the acidity. A bit simple but well put together. 87pts