Malcolm Jolleys enjoys the Pinot Grigio for people who don’t like Pinot Grigio…
I have been trying lately to maintain the fantasy these COVIDays that my family and I are on an extended holiday in a rented villa in an exotic location where we laze around the house, go for the occasional walk around the countryside and focus chiefly on what we’re going to cook for dinner. The location of this weeks (months?) long holiday changes, but the Dolomite Mountains would be as nice a place to be as any. I discovered this last fall when I attended the Alto-Adige Wine Summit as a guest of Wein Südtirol / Vini Alto Adige. At the summit, I tasted a lot of great wine, including many Pinot Grigio’s, or in German, Brauburgunder. In the hands of the skilled winemakers of the region, Pinot Grigio can make some impressively complex and sophisticated wines that far transcends what’s being poured by the glass at my local pub. The trouble is that the wine world has found this out and wines from the top boutique estates of the Alto-Adige are generally priced commensurately.
To the rescue of budget conscious winos comes Stephan Filippi, chief winemaker for the Kellerei Bozen / Cantina Bolzano. The Kellerei is located in new modern winery that could easily substitute for a James Bond villain’s lair on the outskirts of the small city of Bolzano, looking up into the Alps. It’s a co-operative of growers that grow vines on the hills that surround the city. Generally speaking, on the lower parts of the hills, they grow reds, like Lagrein and Schiava, and on the higher fields the whites, including the Burgunders: Pinot Bianco and Grigio. Despite it’s high altitude and northern position in Italy, Bolzano can claim to be the country’s hottest city on some summer’s days. The climate Filippi explained to me one night at a dinner held in a castle, is as much Mediterranean as it is Alpine, and the stony mountains that surround the Adige Valley and the town form a kind of cauldron that traps hot air in the warmer months. When the climate is added to the sharp Alpine quality of pollution free and high-altidue light, the region’s growing season is intense, and the wines, like the Pinot Grigio from the Kellerei can be concentrated and full of just ripe fruit.
The 2018 Kellerei Bozen Pinot Grigio ($18.95 – LCBO# 249466) is a Pinot Grigio for people who think they don’t like Pinot Grigio. It has great weight on the palate and roundness in the mouth. It’s more fruit forward, in my opinion, than aromatic, which makes a versatile food wine as well as a nicely balanced sipper on its own as an aperitivo. I get stone fruits and a lemony, citrus twang and it goes down nicely as we prepare another family dinner in the villa. At $19 it’s certainly worth a try.