Pinot Grigio, the light and lovely Italian white, like Italy’s famous reds, grows best in the northern part of the country where the climate is cooler and less likely to face droughts. The most common areas for its production are Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adigo, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and parts of Lombardy.
Pinot Grigio, meaning “grey Pinot”, is actually a mutation of the pinot noir grape which is, of course, a red. Pinot Grigio actually grows is many regions of the country for it is a particular favorite. Not only is it an extremely popular wine, but since it does not require any particular care, it is easy to grow. Wine makers throughout the country,therefore, produce Pinot Grigio.
Pinot Grigio production comes down to two distinct approaches. One is the terroir approach. This is classical wiinemaking as the place or soil, the terroir, of the grape is respected and the wine produced has a distinctive taste of its place of origin. Faithful representatives of the terroir approach include Cantina Produttori San Michele Appiano in Alto Adige, Lageder, the Cantina Produttori Colterenzio with their Cornell and a great number of estates in the Colli Orientali of Friuli, such as Marco Felluga, in the Friuli Isonzo zone in the province of Gorizia, Lis Neris, Pierpaolo Pecorari and Gianfanco Gallo’s Vie di Romans estate.
In the second and much larger category of wines, the leading denomination is the IGT Venezia, which brings together the bulk of the wines produced by the high volume producers of the Veneto and Trentino. Though the wines differ in character, production methods, quality ambitions and price, they all converge on a highly favourable market sector created some years ago by the Venetian firm of Santa Margherita, the authentic inventors of modern, made-in-Italy Pinot Grigio with its unmistakable yellow label.
What makes this varietal so unmistakable and so popular with consumers? The enormous success of the wine is based on several factors. Above all, it is identified as the unoaked white wine alternative to two dominant styles: oaked Chardonnay and grassy Sauvignon Blanc. Not only is it easy to recognise it, but it easily recognisable as a unique and typically Italian wine in the complex and overcrowded array of national and international varietals.
The great thing about Pinot Grigio from the point of view of the industry is that because of the strategic intelligence of Santa Margherita the Italian wine producers are able to bring sufficient quantities of this light and drinkable wine to satisfy the world-wide cravings. Today, Pinot Grigio has become a highly recognizable wine with many, many enthusiasts. As a result, more pressure is placed upon production with demand outstripping supply. Not to be left in the dust, California winemakers, such as Beringer and Robert Mondava,are putting more and more acres into cultivation of this grape while, at the same, importing Pinot Grigio wine from Italy and then selling it under its own label.. Gallo’s Turning Leaf, produced in California, is a notable exception.