Sunday, 8 January 2012

Vignale Pinot Grigio, Venezie IGT (2010)

Having seen big, fat and oaky New World Chardonnay dominate the market for white wine in the UK five years ago or so, it seems only natural (admittedly with the benefit of hindsight) that consumers, when they moved away from this weighty and bulbous style Chardonnay, would go for a wine which offered less creaminess, less butter and stone fruits and would in fact be a wine that would be a little crisper, fresher and more refreshing than their one time favourite staple. That consumers swung so far in the other direction in terms of flavour profile, to absolutely crisp, light and refreshing Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy, has been attributed to a form of backlash against oaked Chardonnay’s hallmark flavours. However, no matter the reason, for the last couple of years in UK, if you weren’t drinking New World Sauvignon Blanc, you were in fact drinking Italian Pinot Grigio.

A grape variety that can offer a huge range of flavours and styles in it’s different guises (from the medium bodied, floral and stone fruit notes of Alsatian Pinot Gris, to the crisp and simple citrus notes of Pinot Grigio from Veneto) it has in fact the Venetian expression of Pinot Grigio which has gained prevalence in the UK over the past few years. Part of the reason for this is that it is from Veneto that the majority of Italian Pinot Grigio is produced (and that on the fertile plains east of Verona huge quantities can be grown very cheaply thereby making the wine an attractive proposition for value conscious shoppers), but also for the fact that with Venetian Pinot Grigio, a clear set of expectations can be formed as to what one may expect from the wine before purchase or tasting.

Often lambasted by wine connoisseurs for being overly simple and for being there being a lack of any real difference in the style of different Venetian Pinot Grigios, quality and variety in Venetian Pinot Grigio has improved over the past few years (and in fact has improved across Italy). The increased availability of Pinot Grigio from locations such as Trentino and Alto-Adige have shown the propensity for Pinot Grigio to develop complexity when planted at altitude and whilst the majority of Veneto is flat, the hills to the north of the region and a few isolated hillocks to the east are beginning to show that Veneto too can produce very good and interesting wines from this grape too.

Looking to the bottle of this Vignale Pinot Grigio, it is tall shouldered, clear and is sealed with a screw cap. The geographical designation on the bottle is Venezie/Veneto IGT. This means that the grapes for this Vignale Pinot Grigio can be sourced and blended from vineyard sites anywhere across the (large) region that is Veneto. Without a more specific geographical designation (there are no specific named geographic areas for Pinot Grigio production in Veneto), it is hard to pinpoint where exactly the fruit that goes into this Vignale Pinot Grigio hails from, but it is likely (especially considering the considerable volume of this wine that is produced) that it is blend of fruit from several vineyards on the plains of Veneto to the east of Verona. This is also made likely by the price (low), which means the fertile soils of the plains east of the town of Verona would be needed to boost the production of grapes from the Pinot Grigio vines from which this Vignale Pinot Grigio is made.

In the glass, this Vignale Pinot Grigio is a clear, pale, lemon colour. This pale hue makes it relatively difficult to judge the alcoholic content of the wine from the legs, however the other reason that the legs of this Vignale Pinot Grigio are difficult to see is that they do dissipate very quickly when swirled, reflecting an alcoholic content of just 12% abv.

On the nose, this Vignale Pinot Grigio is clean, light and fruity. Simple in nature, lemon citrus is the predominant aroma along with just a little green apple also featuring. Both aromas are restrained and in balance, offering up a bouquet for this Vignale Pinot Grigio that is not at all weighty and fleeting in nature.

Once in the mouth, the primary citrus notes from the nose of this Vignale Pinot Grigio are carried through into a palate that is dry, with a refreshing dose of high acidity. Light bodied, the delicate lemon and apple characteristics fade quickly thereby forming a palate that is short in length. Crisp in nature, this Vignale Pinot Grigio is a Pinot Grigio which is well balanced and clearly nicely made, if not a Pinot Grigio that is pushing the boundaries of the flavours that can be produced with this grape, within this region.

Overall, this Vignale Pinot Grigio is a simple affair. Short, crisp flavours and aromas produce a wine that is very approachable and eminently easy to drink, without at any point proving to be challenging or complex in terms of its flavour combinations. Offering good value for money at its £5 per bottle retail price, this Vignale Pinot Grigio would be a great aperitif for before dinner, or a fantastic wine for drinking with no accompaniment on a summer’s day. If paired with food, this Vignale Pinot Grigio should be used opposite delicately flavoured dishes so as not to be overwhelmed by them.

It would be unfair to expect a greater depth of flavour at this price and from this region – this Vignale Pinot Grigio is an acceptable and enjoyable offering, if not one that will have connoisseurs waxing lyrical.
Vignale Pinot Grigio, Venezie IGT (2010)

Score: 75/100 – Crisp and fresh (but simple), perfect for a summer’s day

Value for Money: 9/10 – This 2010 Vignale Pinot Grigio is well resolved for a price of just £5 per bottle