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February 1, 2019 Comments (1) Views: 410 Try This

Try These : My Top Italian Pinot Grigio Under $20

At this time of year do your thoughts perchance turn to sub-$20 Italian Pinot Grigio? Well, look no further...

At this time of year do your thoughts perchance turn to sub-$20 Italian Pinot Grigio? Well, look no further…

 

Over the past two weeks I found myself with a sizeable selection of Italian Pinot Grigio samples, and so I decided that despite it being one of my least favourite categories personally, it might make for a good piece to do a comparative tasting of LCBO Pinot Grigio under $20.

I picked up a few supplemental bottles from my local LCBO to augment what I had at home, and after a long and painful night of tasting/drinking came to the conclusions that: 

1: This is an enormous category at the LCBO.

2 : Unfortunately this is a category that appears to embrace the shockingly mediocre.

3 : They must hit some of these wines with some intense chemical manipulation as the hangover was unusually brutal (and I have seen some painful hangovers over my years in the business).

When I conducted a similar tasting around 15 years ago within identical parameters the group found over 50% of the wines to be basically undrinkable, so it appears that the overall quality level has picked up quite dramatically over the past decade or so.

Perhaps it is inherent to the category itself that so many were just kind of… well… nothing. Not good, not awful… just neutral. As the old adage goes, when a customer asks for a glass of Pinot Grigio it often indicates that they don’t enjoy the smell or the taste of wine, and many of these wines below are testament to this. 

When writing tasting notes on these I found the profiles to be, for the most part, rather homogeneous and simple, with the words pale straw, crisp, lemon, apple, pear, and floral seemingly on repetition.

Whilst I found no truly outstanding wines in this tasting, I did find a surprising number of well-produced and balanced wines that I would be more than happy to enjoy with friends.

 


 

2016 Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy (Alcohol 13%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO Vintages $15.95 (750ml bottle)

I wasn’t familiar with this bottling and found it to deliver a pleasant rounded profile for the pricepoint. A touch more nervousness would have given this another half apple.
3.5 apples out of 5

2016 Bollini Pinot Grigio, Trentino, Italy (Alcohol 13%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $17.95 (750ml bottle)

Although I have had some issues with a previous vintage of this wine, I found this to press all the right buttons.
3.5 apples out of 5

2016 Tedeschi Pinot Grigio, Venezie, Italy (Alcohol 12.4%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO Vintages $17.95 (750ml bottle)

I’d expect nothing less than benchmark from one of the region’s most solid producers. Anything with the Tedeschi name on it is worthy of your purchase,
3.5 apples out of 5

2016 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy (Alcohol 13%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO Vintages (750ml bottle)

Usually one of my favourite houses (and for many years) I was expecting a little more from this, but Tiefenbrunner still turn out a decent entry level Pinot Grigio.
3.5 apples out of 5

2017 Santa Margherita, Alto Adige/Trentino, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 3 g/l) LCBO Vintages $19.95 (750ml bottle)

A favourite for wine snobs to bash, I’ve always been puzzled as to this wine’s high (for the category’s) ratings in the press. Whilst a decent wine, it certainly doesn’t deserve some of those points!
3.5 apples out of 5

2017 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio, Trentino, Italy (Alcohol 12.5%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO $14.95 (750ml bottle)

From the same producer as the aforementioned Cliffhanger, this is quite similar but a little more dilute. This is not necessarily a bad thing as many prefer that lighter style.
3.5 apples out of 5

2016 Pighin Pinot Grigio, Friuli, Italy (Alcohol 12.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $18.95 (750ml)

This performed particularly well when I tasted with others who drink PG regularly, although I wasn’t entirely convinced. 
3.5 apples out of 5

2016 Perlage Pinot Grigio, Venezie, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO Vintages $14.95 (750ml bottle)

This organically produced Pinot Grigio had perhaps to most mineral profile of the lot, but perhaps to the decrement of the fruit. Still a very pleasant wine.
3.5 apples out of 5

2016 Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 11.5%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO $12.70 (750ml bottle)

Famed Prosecco house Villa Sandi turn out a reasonably decent ground-floor Pinot Grigio. Not bad but slightly lacking in personality. Went down well with non-industry friends, which is probably the target market, and there is nothing wrong with that.

2017 Collavini Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12.5%, Residual Sugar 3 g/l) LCBO $14.95 (750ml bottle)

Yes, it’s the one with the dog on the label… a huge favourite of my ex-wife. It is around this point that we find ourselves wading into the waters of mediocrity and I get a feeling this was one of the wines that gave me that crushing headache the following day.

2016 Ruffino “Lumina” Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO $13.95 (750ml bottle)

You certainly get a lot of forward fruit for a sub $14 white, but perhaps at the expense of everything else. Quite nicely textured though. Again, this scored well with my “Joe Public” friends. 

2017 Folonari Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO $13.95 (750ml bottle)

Even at this price point I expected a bit more from Folonari here. I’m sure I tasted this wine previously and was more impressed. A second bottle cemented my opinion. 

2016 Cavit Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12%, 5 g/l) LCBO $12.95 (750ml bottle)

It was with this bottle I started seriously regretted embarking upon this evaluative tasting. Really sub-par IMHO.
.

2016 Bolla Pinot Grigio, Veneto IGT, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO $13.95 (750ml bottle)

I’d cook with this. Yes… *tastes again*… cooking wine, without a doubt.

2016 Tommasi “Le Rosse” Pinot Grigio, Venezie, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 7 g/l) LCBO Vintages $15.95 (750ml bottle)

Whilst not actually bad, I don’t think that I have ever tasted a wine that tasted more “neutral”.

2016 Masi “Modello” Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO $12.95 (750ml bottle)

Make it stop. Please… make it stop…
 (but ALMOST Zero apples out of a possible five)

2017 Ciao Bianco Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO $12.80 (1000ml tetra pak)

Zero apples out of a possible five.

2016 Voga Pinot Grigio, Veneto IGT, Italy (Alcohol 12%, Residual Sugar 8 g/l) LCBO $14.05 (750ml bottle)

Zero apples out of a possible five.

2016 Dazante Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy (12% Alcohol, Residual Sugar 6 g/l) LCBO $14.95 (750ml bottle)

Zero apples out of a possible five.

2016 Montalto Pinot Grigio, Sicily, Italy (12% Alcohol, Residual Sugar 5 g/l) LCBO $10 (750ml bottle)

Zero apples out of a possible five.

 

 


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And some of those were actually not too bad at all.

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One Response to Try These : My Top Italian Pinot Grigio Under $20

  1. Dean Tudor says:

    Actually, I like the Attems PG coming out Feb 2 Vintages, but it was just over $20…

    And now, on to the Ontario Pinot Grigio samples!! I’ll provide the aspirin or ibuprofen — your call!!

    Or, take on the Alsatian super sweet Pinot Gris for double hangovers!!

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