Pinot Grigio frequently gets a bum rap. Too often, wines made from the varietal just leave nothing to get excited about: they're neutral, simple, quaffable, but that's the end of the story. Looking for the culprit? Try indifferent viticulture and high yields, followed by high-volume winemaking operations.
But before we dismiss the category entirely, it's crucial to experience the exceptions: small-production, carefully crafted Pinot Grigio from a few areas in Northeast Italy. The most important of these is Alto-Adige, in the Italian Alps, the northernmost growing region in the country. Here, the volcanic soils can give wines a profound mineral character, especially when growers limit yields in the vineyards.
Cantina St. Pauls is a winemaking cooperative in Alto-Adige that was founded in 1907. Currently 215 growers produce grapes for the co-op, cultivating over 175 hectares of vineyards around the village of St. Pauls. The winemaking team takes an active role in training the farmers to limit yields and provides consulting services across the growing season, and upon harvesting, the individual growers bring in their grapes to be sorted. Careful selection at this stage also ensures that only the highest quality grapes go into the collective's wines.
Cantina St. Pauls Pinot Grigio stands out as a sterling example of the promise the grape holds, when the right conditions are met. This straw-yellow colored wine is full-bodied and rich. Broad on the palate, it shows notes of honey as well as a slight nutty edge.
Cantina St Pauls
Serve this wine lightly chilled, either as an apertif, or with light-fleshed seafood and shellfish dishes.