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Friday, April 5, 2013

Pinot Gris From Alsace - Pinot Grigio That Tastes Good

Pinot Grigio you'll want to drink.

Pinot Gris From Alsace - Pinot Grigio That Tastes Good
Even the bottle shape is better.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of good Pinot Grigio out there -- but there's also tons of watered down, lifeless juice you can barely call wine (Italy and California, I'm looking at you). Of course years ago as a very casual wine drinker, I loved the stuff. Give me a bottle of Ecco Domani and I was in heaven. And in all actuality that's still a fine wine if that's what you're in the mood for, it's just that nowadays I find myself wanting something with a little more substance and complexity. To be honest, I had just about given up on finding that in Pinot Grigio, except for perhaps the occasional bottle from Alto Adige or Australia. But then I discovered Alsace.

The Alsace region in the north-eastern corner of France is well known for producing stellar white wines. Riesling and Gewurztraminer are the most popular, but Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio) is right behind them. The wines produced here are markedly different, in part due to the heavy German influence (the whole region has changed nationality several times throughout history, switching between Germany and France) and partially due to the mix of volcanic and limestone soils and the unique climate created by the Vosges Mountains. Like any good wine, you almost feel that you can taste these elements in the glass. And perhaps remarkably for us, given we're talking about French wine here, there are a number of excellent examples of Alsatian Pinot Gris for under $20. Here are four of my favorite Pinot Gris picks from Alsace.


Willm Pinot Gris Reserve 2011 - Recommended Buy
First up is the Willm Pinot Gris Reserve 2011 with an SRP of $13 and available for as low as $11. 13% Alcohol.

The wine begins with pleasant aromas of honey tinged fruit, primarily peach, apricot and a little pear. Nothing out of the ordinary so far, but it's when tasting the wine you realize that this is not your average Pinot Grigio. The Willm is so much more substantial with a soft and round texture that is really quite pleasing. The wine is modestly sweet but some nice acidity at the core helps to keep the sweetness level in check. It ends with more honey soaked fruit that lasts for good time in the mouth. A great place to start your exploration of Pinot Gris.


Buy this wine online from our featured sponsor Marketview Liquor or see a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 8              Cost Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 8.0



Domaine Mittnacht Freres Pinot Gris Les Petits Grains 2011 - Recommended BuySecond is the Domaine Mittnacht Freres Pinot Gris Les Petits Grains 2011 with an SRP of $22 and available for as low as $20. 14% Alcohol.

The Domaine Mittnacht reveals more of the mineral side of Alsace. It begins with peach, apricot, pear and honeysuckle aromas along with a hint of tropical fruit. Tasting the wine reveals a lovely texture and viscosity with lots of minerals, fruit and spice. There's also an excellent bright acidity. The fruit flavors are similar to the nose, but the fruit takes a back seat when tasting this wine. It ends crisp and clean.


See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 9              Cost Rating: 1
Overall Rating: 7.0



Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Pinot Gris 2009 - Recommended BuyThird is the Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Pinot Gris 2009 with an SRP of $20 and available for as low as $15. 13.5% Alcohol.

The Domains Schlumberger begins altogether different than the first two wines. Earthy apple and quince notes, white peach and hints of smoke and lemon are the first aromas to hit you. That lovely mouthfeel is still there however, this time rich and even a bit chalky. The primary flavors when tasting are similar to the bouquet with perhaps a bit more smoke coming through and lasting all the way through to the long finish. What's interesting is that many times a wine with a thick mouthfeel like this would be very sweet, but that's not the case here. And just like the first two wines, lovely mineral notes add intrigue. A wine that just gets better and better with every sip.

See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 9              Cost Rating: 5
Overall Rating: 8.0



Meyer-Fonne Pinot Gris Reserve Particuliere 2009 - Recommended BuyLast we have the Meyer-Fonne Pinot Gris Reserve Particuliere 2009 with an SRP of $22 and available for as low as $20. 13.5% Alcohol.

With this wine, the first thing to hit you when smelling it are funky, earthy notes with apple, peach and a hint of tropical fruit not far behind. The wine tastes absolutely splendid with a lovely and lively texture in the mouth. It isn't at all what I expected from the nose, but it's delicious. Baked green apple, peach, spicy pear and even a hint of cinnamon combine with good acidity and then eventually give way to chalky mineral notes on the long finish.

See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.

Taste Rating: 9              Cost Rating: 1
Overall Rating: 7.0


All wines were samples submitted for review.

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