It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. This time around we begin the second half of the challenge – nine whites await us! Last time I reflected on the first half and the nine reds I worked through, and today we get to know our first white, Pinot Grigio.
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
About Pinot Grigio
The most well known kind of Pinot Grigio has got to be that crisp, light, almost water-like and usually Italian stuff that makes the perfectly refreshing summer spritzer.
I happen to hate those kinds of Pinot Grigios.
Now, before you get all up in arms about how preposterous that is and how much you love your summertime PGs, let me explain. I’ve never been one to love anything mild tasting. When I was studying spirits as part of my WSET 2 course we talked about how whisky was a more ‘characterful’ spirit and how vodka was more ‘neutral’, meaning whisky has a ton more flavour than sad, mild, nothingness-tasting vodka. If I’m going to spend my hard earned cash on something, I want to FEEL it. #sorrynotsorry
And I’m not alone. By the time I’d made it to my WSET 3 course I finally started to understand why the wine powers that be raise some wines up over others. Sure, it has a lot to do with terroir and tradition, but it also has to do with intensity of flavour – the more, the better. This is why, in the world of Pinot Grigio, the wines thought of as the best tend of have a fuller body and more pronounced flavours. They also tend to come from Northern Italy, which is where today’s test case hails from.
Oh! And one other thing! Have you ever seen a Pinot Gris in your local wine shop? Same grape. Zany, right?? Where Italy is the home of many a Pinot Grigio, Alsace France is typically regarded as the heart-home of Pinot Gris. Today producers in other regions tend to label their wines as one or the other as a clue to us drinkers about the style of the wine they’re about to enjoy.
The Test Case
Today’s test case is the 2013 Maculan Pinot Grigio. This bottle was given to me by my stepdad a few months ago and I honestly have no idea when it came into his possession, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it hung out in his cellar for a year or two. The LCBO currently has the 2015 in stock.
- It really is a gorgeous colour, like liquid sunshine.
- I get a bright greenness on the nose – green apple, or maybe apple blossom? Or both? I also get a kind of creamy character, like milk or yogurt. Apple yogurt!
- There’s also a soft spiciness on the nose, like white pepper or ground ginger.
- It definitely smells clean and crisp. If this wine isn’t super bright on the palate I will be super surprised.
- DING DING DING – I win! The flavour is super bright and juicy and carries through all the lovely greenery from the nose. Green apple, apple blossom, pear, and honeysuckle are all playing around here. The acidity is pretty high, causing my mouth to water after a sip and me to immediately want another one.
- The creaminess and gentle spice carries through here too, making this wine more interesting with each sip.
- There’s a lot of flavour here! An enjoyable intensity. It’s definitely not one of those PGs that just taste like lemon water.
This is a solid wine. If we’re going by WSET’s standards and looking for balance, length, intensity and complexity then I’d wager this wine scores high marks on all four. And beyond that, I liked it! Despite being on a current kick of full bodied, richly intense whites, I quite enjoyed this little respite. And at $16 a bottle it’s a pretty good deal.
Next time on NGC – The great chameleon grape, Riesling!