It’s said that popularity, like familiarity, breeds contempt, and what’s true of people, is also, it seems, applicable to Pinot Grigio. This variety, when used to produce delicate whites at low prices, has become so prevalent, it is often derided – that is, among wine drinkers with a snobbish side.
However, one should consider what it is about Pinot Grigio, or rather, Pinot Gris – it is a French grape after all – that made it so popular in the first place.
Well, its rise to become one of the world’s best-selling white grapes, alongside Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, relates to its lighter side as a fresh, apple-scented white from the northern Italian area of the Veneto – now successfully rebranded as Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC. Grown in this part of Europe, the grape carved out a market, particularly in the UK, for clean, vinous refreshment at a keen price, and at a time when the competition at this level may have been flabby, oxidative, or off-dry. And the same style of bright, fresh Pinot Grigio is popular today, despite its critics, who tend to mock the wines for being dull and dilute – a fair accusation only for the cheapest expressions from over-cropped vineyards; wines that wouldn’t pass the new DOC taste tests.
The vast majority of Pinot Grigio from around the Veneto, however, is a delight, loaded with ripe orchard fruits and lemon zest, with notes of cream and bitter almond too.
But this is just one face of Pinot Grigio, and therein lies its appeal. It can take on many forms, from light pink, or ‘gris’, to sparkling, bone dry to richly sweet.
Plus, it performs well in a wide variety of climes and soils – with our top scorers this year hailing from Italy and France as one might expect, but also England, California, Oregon, Canada and New Zealand.
Among the still dry wines, while Pinot Grigio flavour profiles can range from crisp apple and lemon to richer notes of pear and peach, it’s really the texture of the wine that tends to vary the most. This is a grape that can, if harvested late from low yielding vineyards, produce wines with a marked and satisfying oiliness, even without residual sugar.
Then there’s its affinity for ageing in wood, with nutty characters complementing the variety’s yellow fruit notes, and honeyed characters from oxidative handling in barriques balancing the grape’s citric edge.
In essence, you’d be wrong to knock Pinot Grigio, as it comes in many styles, and quality levels, from fine barrel-aged whites to fresh, delicate drops.
As for where to go for the best examples, well, look to our medalists in the following tables – with reliably good Pinot Grigio producers including Frescobaldi (Attems), Castello di Roncade, Mission Hill Estate, La Roncaia and Marisco (The King’s Thorn).
One final point, and that concerns a loose guide to the type of Pinot Grigio you can expect. Generally, those wines labelled Pinot Gris tend to be richer and more viscous in style. The areas where that character is favoured tend to be Alsace and Marlborough.
So, if you like your whites with weight, look to these parts of the wine world. But if it’s something light you’re after, then Italy is an ideal source, if not the only place for such a bright type of white, as the results from the competition show.
Please read on for the results in full from 2020’s Global Pinot Grigio Masters, along with some comments from the judges, and further information about the competition.
|Cantina Viticoltori Ponte||Spumante DOC Brut delle Venezie||Veneto||Italy||NV||Silver|
|La Cantina Pizzolato||Sparkling DOC delle Venezie Extra Dry||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|La Cantina Pizzolato||Sparkling DOC delle Venezie Extra Brut “So Easy”||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Fox & Fox||Inspiration Brut Blanc de Gris||Sussex||UK||2014||Gold|
|Think Wine Group||Think Pink||Veneto||Italy||NV||Bronze|
|Castello di Roncade||Pinot Grigio DOC Venezia||Veneto||Italy||2019||Gold|
|Bestheim||Pinot Gris Premium Reserve||Alsace||France||2019||Gold|
|Citra Vini||Farinelli Pinot Grigio||Abruzzo||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Poderi dal Nespoli||Il Papavero Pinot Grigio||Sicily||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Perlage Winery||Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Cantina Viticoltori Ponte||Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Bosco Viticultori||Bosco dei Cirmioli Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Ca’ di Rajo||Pinot Grigio||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Antonio Facchin e Figli||Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Enoitalia||Ca’ Mandato Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC||Trentino||Italy||2018||Silver|
|Casa Vinicola Sartori||Pinot Grigio Friuli||Friuli-Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Casa Vinicola Sartori||Pinot Grigio delle Venezie “Villa Mura”||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Fossa Mala||Pinot Grigio||Friuli||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Aldi Ireland||Freeman’s Bay New Zealand Pinot Gris||Gisborne||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Cecilia Beretta||“Grigio Luna” Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Ca’Duso||Motolo – tRe||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Cavit||Mastri Vernacoli Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Aldi Ireland||Castellore Pinot Grigio Sauvignon||Sicily||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Qualia Wines||Barramundi Pinot Grigio||SE Australia||Australia||2018||Bronze|
|te Pā Family Vineyards||Pa Road||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Bronze|
|Kris Winery||Kris Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie||Friuli-Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Vigna Dogarina||Pinot Grigio DOC Venezia||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Concilio||Pinot Grigio Sentiero dei Pini||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Concilio||Pinot Grigio delle Venezie Il Pino||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Enoitalia||Pendium Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Casa Vinicola Sartori||Arco dei Giovi Pinot Grigio delle Venezie||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Casa Girelli||Canaletto Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC||Veneto||Italy||2020||Bronze|
|Antonutti||Pinot Grigio DOC Friuli||Friuli-Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Cielo e Terra||Bericanto Pinot Grigio DOC Vicenza||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Perlage Winery||Terra Viva Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Cantine di Ora||Il Casato – Pinot Grigio Valdadige DOC||Valdadige||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine||Pasqua Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Cavit||Terrazze della Luna Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Santa Helena||Santa Helena Varietal||Central Valley||Chile||2020||Bronze|
|Aldi Ireland||Castellore Pinot Grigio||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Aldi Ireland||Castellore Organico Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane IGT||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Mission Hill Estate Winery||Estate Series Pinot Gris||Okanagan Valley||Canada||2019||Gold|
|Trinchero Family Estates||SeaGlass Pinot Grigio||Santa Barbara County||USA||2018||Gold|
|Wakefield/Taylors Wines||Wakefield Taylors Pinot Gris||Clare Valley||Australia||2019||Silver|
|Castelfeder Winery||Pinot Grigio 15||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Marisco Vineyards||The Ned Pinot Grigio||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Silver|
|Marisco Vineyards||Leefield Station Pinot Gris||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Silver|
|Trinchero Family Estates||Three Thieves Pinot Grigio||California||USA||2018||Silver|
|Cavit||Bottega Vinai Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC||Trentino||Italy||2019||Silver|
|te Pa Family Vineyards||Montford Pinot Gris||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Silver|
|te Pa Family Vineyards||te Pa||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Silver|
|Yealands Wine Group||Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Gris||Auckland||New Zealand||2018||Bronze|
|te Pa Family Vineyards||Pa Road Pinot Gris||Marlborough||New Zealand||2020||Bronze|
|Attems||Attems Pinot Grigio||Friuli-Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Cantine di Ora/Kellerei Auer||Pinot Grigio DOC||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Trinchero Family Estates||Joel Gott Oregon Pinot Gris||Oregon||USA||2018||Gold|
|The Lane Vineyard||The Lane Pinot Gris||Adelaide Hills||Australia||2020||Silver|
|Cavit||Ruendis Pinot Grigio Trentino Superiore DOC||Trentino||Italy||2018||Silver|
|Colle Duga||Collio Pinot Grigio||Friuli-Venezia Giulia||Italy||2018||Silver|
|Cabert – Cantina di Bertiolo||Pinot Grigio DOC Friuli||Friuli-Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Stopham Vineyard Winery||Stopham Pinot Gris||West Sussex||UK||2018||Bronze|
|Masottina||Ai Palazzi Dorsoduro DOC delle Venezie||Veneto||Italy||2018||Bronze|
|Mission Hill Estate Winery||Reserve Pinot Gris||Okanagan Valley||Canada||2019||Master|
|Giusti Wine||Pinot Grigio Longheri||Veneto||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Cantina Valle Isarco||Pinot Grigio Aristos||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Marisco Vineyards||The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Gold|
|te Pa Family Vineyards||te Pa Pinot Gris||Marlborough||New Zealand||2019||Silver|
|Nals Margreid||Punggl Pinot Grigio||Bolzano||Italy||2019||Silver|
|La Roncaia||La Roncaia Pinot Grigio||Friuli Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Master|
|La Roncaia||La Roncaia Pinot Grigio||Friuli Venezia Giulia||Italy||2018||Master|
|Masottina||Ai Palazzi Pinot Grigio Single Vineyard DOC Venezia||Veneto||Italy||2017||Silver|
|Albino Armani||Colle Ara||Trentino-Alto Adige||Italy||2019||Silver|
|Cavit||Pinot Grigio Rosato IGT Vigneti delle
Dolomiti Terrazze della Luna
|di Lenardo||Gossip||Friuli Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Concilio||Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC Il Pino||Veneto||Italy||2019||Bronze|
|Attems||Pinot Grigio Ramato||Friuli Venezia Giulia||Italy||2019||Silver|
A delightful judging day with plenty of interest and surprises! The global selection contained so many delicious wines with the best having purity, juicy fruit flavours and balance. When oak was used, the wood seemed to integrate rather than dominate.
As expected, northern Italy dominated the inexpensive unoaked Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. The best showed lovely custard or peach and passionfruit flavours and balanced acidity with accents of rose petal, white flowers or orange and lemon zest. These Under £10 wines seemed best when dry or nearly dry with relatively low alcohol and sufficient acidity. Easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing wines. There were some lovely Pinot Grigio DOC wines from the Veneto and a couple of exciting Pinot Gris-styles from Alsace and Alto Adige. At £10-15 there were expressive wines from New and Old World regions and a few excellent examples of pure Pinot Gris from Friuli in the far northeastern reaches of Italy, Okanagan in Canada and Santa Barbara in California. Excellent value-for money exists in this price bracket.
Above £15 the wines performed consistently well with many of the wines receiving Silvers at least. At the stratospheric end (for Pinot Gris) was a stunningly good example from Okanagan, which deserves a place on the table as an alternative to unoaked Chardonnay.
The, admittedly few, oaked white Pinot Gris were quite high-priced (£15 and upwards for the most part) and all deserving of silvers, golds and even a Master. These wines had beautifully-judged use of creamy oak supporting the lovely aromas and fleshy flavours of the variety.
The rosé Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, albeit not a large group, were actually quite nice and relatively inexpensive, under £15. This appears to be growing category and probably with justification for easy-drinking styles, perfumed and juicy without too much sweetness.
Sparkling white Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio at Under £10 appears to be a valid alternative to Prosecco and the wines, with perhaps a little more citrus character and length of finish. One absolute ‘cracker’ was the (almost) outrageously expensive English Sparkling Pinot Gris, with balance, length, intensity and depth of flavour, worth every tuppence it costs.
A final comment: Some excellent wines and some excellent value. In comparison with previous years of The Global Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Masters, I found much better consistency in every price bracket with not a single wine I would not drink a glass of.
With high-quality judges and a unique sampling process, The Global Pinot Grigio Masters provides a chance for your wines to star, whether they hail from the great vineyards of Europe or lesser-known winemaking areas of the world. The 2020 competition was judged by David Round MW, Patrick Schmitt MW and Patricia Stefanowicz MW in December at London’s 28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen.
The top wines were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding in their field received the ultimate accolade – the title of Pinot Grigio Master.
Here, we feature the medal winners only.
Please visit The Global Masters website for more information, or, to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please call: +44 (0) 20 7803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at: email@example.com