Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's time for Pinot Class (Hey! Those wines aren't red!)

This grape (above)
produces the wines
displayed below.

Carrie (right) models tonight's wine selection.

It's time for Pinot Class!

Just Grapes has presented an educational Monday night series this summer, featuring six different varieties. I received an invitation to their fifth class on July 14, about the Pinot Grigio grape. Now, this isn't my favorite grape starting with Pinot (guess which is!), but I took this invite as a opportunity to give a variety I have previously dismissed a second chance.

Just Grapes owner Dan Sritong began offering a brief introduction of Pinot Grigio; it originated in Italy, and yes, it is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. Traditionally, the grape produces a light-bodied wine with citris-type acidity. Mr. Sritong recommends pairing Pinot Grigio/Gris with sushi, salmon, and Thai and Indian dishes.

Part of the reason Pinot Grigio isn't considered the most sophisticated of varietal grapes can be traced to the massive success twenty five years ago of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, a pleasant but mostly forgettable wine. Tasting wines like this will make you think that all Pinot Grigios are nothing but "alcoholic water", in Sritong's words.

Fortunately, Mr. Sritong provided seven solid examples of what this grape can produce. Two came from Italy, the rest came from France, California, and Oregon. Oregon, especially, is a state to watch for Pinot Grigio. The 2007 Ponzi and the 2006 Willakenzie both come from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and featured more body and crisp acidity than the other featured wines. (In Oregon, and Alsace, France, the grape is usually known as Pinot Gris, and these wines often have more tropical aromas and exotic spices than the Italian examples).

There's still one more class in this series; on August 11, at 6:00 p.m., Just Grapes will feature the Chardonnay grape. You can register on their website, or call 312-627-9463.


Anonymous said...

I love Just Grapes, and their seminars are great. I completely agree that Santa Margherita can turn people away from Pinot Grigio, but there are plenty of lovely Pinot Grigios out there. Maso Canali (about $18) is one of my favorites right now. I'm glad you found a few you like!
- Katie

Chicago Pinot said...

Thanks for writing Katie! What country is Maso Canali from?

Have you tasted any PG from Oregon?

There's one more Just Grapes class this Monday (8-11), are you attending?

Chicago Pinot