Our Picks: Six Diverse Expressions of Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for Pinot Gris, a mutation of Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero). It’s said this grape was introduced from France via Piemonte at the beginning of the 19th century, before gaining recognition in north-eastern Italy.

The name of this variety derives from the colour of the berries: at ripeness they are not white, but can be anything from greyish blue to brownish pink (sometimes on the same bunch).

Pinot Grigio is an adaptable variety with the potential for great quality, allowing winemakers to produce very different wine styles. A ‘ramato’ style sees skin contact during fermentation. This technique gives the wine a coppery (‘ramato’ in Italian) pink colour, but also a more complex structure and increased aromatic profile. This style is most commonly produced in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

More often, Pinot Grigio is made without skin contact, resulting in a light white wine. This style was pioneered by Alto Adige producer Santa Margherita in the 1960s. The best wines made in this way capture the delicate fruit and floral aroma of the variety.

Here are some exceptional examples of the diverse expressions of Pinot Grigio that you can find in our portfolio...

The Veneto:

Alpha Zeta, `Terrapieno` Pinot Grigio 2020

Kiwi winemaker Matt Thomson noticed that grapes from the Terrapieno site in the Valpolicella region were consistently producing more concentrated grapes, and so decided to make a single vineyard wine. The site is slightly cooler than average and the poor yet well-drained volcanic soil gives the wine elegant and precise flavours. The resulting wine has typical aromas of pear and bread crust, classic for Pinot Grigio from this area. The nose gives way to lovely weight and a silky texture on the palate, with hints of dried herbs. The wine finishes dry with a zesty acidity and a saline minerality on the finish.

Trentino-Alto Adige:

Cesconi, Pinot Grigio 2019

This wine comes from Pressano, just north of the city of Trento, at 300 metres above sea level. The high altitude of the vineyards, along with very mineral sedimentary soils, results in intensely concentrated fruit. The wine is made with a short (12 hour) maceration — not enough to make it a ‘ramato’ wine, but enough to add texture and depth. It is then aged for nine months in large oak barrels. We like to drink this wine with a little bit of bottle age, when it has gained further complexity.

Franz Haas, Pinot Grigio 2019

Franz Haas’ vineyards lie on south-facing slopes near Montagna (about 30 km north of Pressano). The silt and clay soils here are rich, and the grapes develop floral aromas and notes of sage, hay, almonds and sandalwood. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, with a small quantity in barrique. Franz Haas leaves this wine on its lees for four months after the fermentation, to add complexity and give a fuller body.

Friuli Venezia Giulia:

Livio Felluga, Pinot Grigio 2019

Livio Felluga’s Pinot Grigio grapes grow on the typical flysch and marl soils of the Colli Orientali zone. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats, with a short period of skin contact before fermentation. The resulting wine is intense yet elegant, with aromas of melon and stone fruit and floral notes. Fresh and smooth on the palate, this persistent Pinot Grigio has great balance and a refreshing, mineral finish.

Specogna, Pinot Grigio Ramato 2020

Specogna’s vineyards in Rocca Bernarda, in the heart of the Colli Orientali, form a beautiful amphitheatre of different plots. Grapes for the Pinot Grigio are grown in a small vineyard on a northeast-facing slope. This wine undergoes three days of cool maceration, prior to fermentation in stainless steel tanks. 20% of the wine is aged in 500-litre oak barrels, while the rest remains in stainless steel vats. Both components benefit from lees stirring every 20 days, and are blended after eight months. The wine has the typical copper highlights of the ‘ramato’ style. It is fresh and floral on the nose, with aromas of apples, pears and elderflower. On the palate, it has an apple and pineapple character with a lively, lifted finish and hints of freshly-baked bread.

Vie di Romans, `Dessimis` Pinot Grigio 2019

This rich, textured Pinot Grigio is made from two parcels of the Dessimis vineyard, located in the commune of Mariano del Friuli. The vines are planted on shallow, well-drained gravelly clay soils containing ferrous and aluminium oxides. The grapes undergo a cold maceration for 20-22 hours followed by fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 18 days. The wine is then matured on its lees for nine months. This is a rich and complex wine with aromas of sweet pastry, pear skin and notes of yellow fruit. It has extraordinary complexity and structure.