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Two truly toothsome Italian Pinot Grigios

Northside Staff Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Alice Peters, Kelley O'Neill, Jason Wentworth

There is no denying the current popularity of the white wine made from the Pinot Grigio grape. However, there is also no denying that much of the ocean of Pinot Grigio produced primarily in northeastern Italy is pretty dull, insipid stuff. In spite of this reality, there are producers of this wine who achieve superior results by lowering yields in the vineyards, and practicing greater care in their winemaking.

The staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind-tasted 31 Italian Pinot Grigios in an attempt to identify some good examples.

While many of the wines were dull, verging on neutral, there were also some very good wines in the group. Most of the better wines hailed from the Alto Adige region, the German-speaking part of Italy that was part of Austria prior to World War I.

The staff's top pick was the 2005 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio "Benefizium Porer," priced at $19.99 per bottle [Sku 400].* Lageder's wine is produced from a steep, single vineyard at his Alto Adige estate. The wine, which is beautifully balanced, has an attractive mineral quality in the nose complemented by a slightly smoky note. It is a tasty wine with a very nice blend of citrus, apple, and vanilla flavors that end in a fresh, long finish. It can be served with light first courses, but also with fuller flavored chicken and pork dishes

The value of the tasting, at $11.99 per bottle, was the 2006 Kris Pinot Grigio, made by a very large producer, Franz Haas, solely for the U.S. market [Sku 3989].* A simpler wine than the Lageder, it has a wonderfully fresh, vibrant character and a much more persistent flavor than most of the wines in the tasting. Serve this appealingly soft Pinot Grigio with starters or mildly seasoned chicken dishes, or just enjoy it alone as a delicious aperitif.

"Top Wine Picks" as seen in The Ithaca Journal 08/27/2007.

* To purchase this wine, simply type its "Sku" into the "Find" field at the top of the page, and then click "Go."

If you would like the full tasting list along with the rankings, please email us your name, phone number, city, and zip code to

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