Tag Archives: Pinot Grigio

Tasting Note: BluStone Pinot Grigio

BluStone has a wonderful tasting room at the top of a hill near Traverse City, with a tremendous vista over the vines and surrounding countryside.  It’s worth a trip there just for the view, let alone the wines.  Some of these grapes were brought in from vineyards outside the Leelanau Peninsula AVA, hence the plain Michigan designation.

BluStone Pinot Grigio (2015) Michigan – $12

Color: pale gold, with a hint of green.

Aroma: lemon curd and custard, with slight grassy notes.

Taste: smooth, with a big body up front of citrus and stone fruit. There’s a hint of sugar in there. Good acidity, but not tart of astringent like cheap Italian Pinot Grigio.

This is a great deal.  You don’t need to chill this to death, the way you do some many other Pinot Grigios in the same price range.  Recommended.

Tasting Note – 2 Lads Pinot Grigio

Another wine club delivery from this last week – I’m having a glass as an aperitif before dinner.  It’s a 2016 vintage, which means it’s just recently been bottled.

2 Lads Pinot Grigio (2016) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $17

Color: very brassy and pale.

Aroma: lemon, vanilla, some green grassy and herbal notes.

Taste: crisp, with a touch of residual carbon dioxide that makes it lively on the tongue. The citrus notes are balanced by the herbal notes – like in a good Thai dish – and the overall impression is lively and refreshing.  This is a great cocktail hour white.



Tasting Notes: Black Star Farms Arcturos Pinot Gris

This is one of the wines I picked up this summer in the Traverse City area.  Black Star has several properties, including vineyards on both the Old Mission Peninsula (a long, skinny spit of land which separates the bay into two halves) and the Leelanau Peninsula (a more substantial stretch of land on the west side of the bay).  Arcturos is one of their sub-brands – look for the ornate star on the label.

Arcturos Pinot Gris (2014) – $18

Color: very pale.

Aroma: lemon and lemon zest up front, then moving into pear and flinty notes.

Taste: round and soft, featuring pear and asian pear with underlying citrus.  Well-balanced acidity.  The finish is clean and a bit short, but then a few seconds later returns with more pear.

A good pairing for plain grilled or broiled chicken breast, or for light-bodied fish.


Winetasting report: Trader Joe’s, Ann Arbor

Stopped into the Ann Arbor store for their Saturday afternoon tasting – a typical crowded weekend afternoon in a Trader Joe’s! They had three wines on tasting, and I’d only had one of them before, so I ran the flight.

Villa Sonia Pinot Grigio (2012) Venezia, Italy – $6

More body than typical for a Pinot Grigio, with lower acidity and a full mouthfeel. This is something to have with food, not as a cocktail-hour drink. A simple risotto or some poached fish would be good pairings.

Valreas (2012) Cotes du Rhone Villages, France – $7

I tried the 2011 vintage of this wine just a few months ago, and I have to say I prefer it. The 2012 bottling over-the-top on the oak, and you don’t get nearly the amount of fruit as in the 2011. Skip the 2012.

Revelation Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Pays d’Oc, France – $6

This was really tight. The Pays d’Oc region is mostly too hot to make good, expressive Cabernet – much like the Central Valley of California. I found this to be a little stemmy as well. Not recommended.

Tasting Note: Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Pinot Grigio

I’ll be catching up on some tasting notes that I scribbled down in the midst of Christmas parties this week. First up, a limited-production Pinot Grigio from California’s Central Coast.

Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Pinot Grigio (2012) Paso Robles, California – $8

Color: relatively dark for a Pinot Grigio, with a straw-yellow complexion.

Aroma: apricot and honeysuckle; the cooler climate in Paso is more like the Alsace or Austria than it is sunny Italy, so the fruit notes exhibit less citrus and more stone fruit.

Taste: pleasant; this still has good acidity if you’re looking for a thirst-quencher, but it also has a smoky richness towards the back of the tongue.

This style won’t suit everyone; if you’re looking for lemony Pinot Grigio, then skip this. But I think this would make a nice foil for a rotisserie chicken or Pad Thai.


Drinking Tonight: 2 Italian Whites

We’re enjoying the last of summery weather right now, so I’m having a light dinner tonight – salad, cheese, and hummus. I’m opening two bottles of inexpensive Italian white from Trader Joe’s that should pair well.

Photo0239Both wines involve the classic Italian grape, Pinot Grigio. The first wine, Vola, is only 16% Pinot Grigio – the other 84% is Trebbiano (known in France as Ugni Blanc). Trebbiano is a workhorse grape that’s grown across Italy; this blend comes from the southeastern corner of the country. Contadino is 100% Pinot Grigio, from its traditional growing region in the northeast, around Venice. The are both current vintages, harvested about one year ago – you should always buy the most recent vintage of Pinot Grigio and other light-bodied Italian whites, as they do not improve with age.

Vola Trebbiano Pinot Grigio (2012) Puglia, Italy – $4.00

Color: very pale yellow

Aroma: fruity – aromas of grapes and apple juice, and a touch of dry apple cider.

Taste: light and fruity – white grapes and a touch of apple. Dry and verging on crisp, but not acrid or tart in any way. Pleasant but not powerful. A quick, light, clean finish.

Contadino Pinot Grigio (2012) Della Venezie, Italy – $6.50

Color: even paler, but with a touch of green in the center of the glass.

Aroma: classic Pinot Grigio nose of citrus fruit and minerality.

Taste: crisp and lively on the tongue, with a fuller body and some darker notes underneath – almost a hint of carmelized or candied fruit. Quite well balanced and harmonious for an inexpensive Pinot,

I’m not sure what to say about the Vola. The flavor profile is unusual, and pairing food with it isn’t easy. You could make white Sangria with it, but I’m afraid the wine would be lost under the mango, apricot, and citrus fruit. Best to leave it on the shelf unless you really need something to serve with fruit salad at a multi-course brunch.

Contadino, on the other hand, is a winner. This brand has been a best-seller at Trader Joe’s since I worked there over 4 years ago, and it’s still an excellent choice for an everyday Pinot Grigio, and the price is hard to beat.  Recommended.