1. Headline
  1. Headline

Video: Oct. 26: Tired of chardonnay? Wine columnist Ed Deitch shares a review of a California pinot grigio that's sure to please.

By Wine columnist
updated 11/6/2006 9:14:28 AM ET 2006-11-06T14:14:28

It's mid-afternoon on a brisk Saturday in October. Tennis and baseball with the boys are over and we're back home for a quick lunch of basil, mozzarella and tomato sandwiches.  I pour myself a glass of crisp pinot grigio that fits the food and the informality of the afternoon perfectly. One thing is unusual, though.  The wine is not from Friuli or elsewhere in northern Italy, where pinot grigio has traditionally been made. This one is from California — the refreshing and fruity 2005 Pinot Grigio from the Estancia Winery in Monterey County.

The tastes call to mind pear, melon, lemon zest and touches of vanilla, herbs and minerals. I found it more appealing than the 2004 vintage because it's lighter, with alcohol at a modest 12.5 percent, which is unusual for any California wine.  Noticeably missing is the heavy overlay of oak that characterizes most California chardonnays, and that, I think, is the big selling point for this and similar wines. For the Estancia wine another one is the price — it's a bargain at $12.

Icon Estates
Pinot grigio, of course, is the same grape as pinot gris, and that's what most of the wines from California and Oregon are called, including the classy 2005 Sonoma Reserve Pinot Gris from Gallo Family Vineyards, which has a suggested price of $15.  This one is a bit more reserved in style than the Estancia, with notes of green apple and fig and the citrus more muted. It's notable for its balance and elegance.

We enjoyed it with gray sole fillets seasoned simply with a little salt, white pepper and paprika and broiled with white wine and a few dabs of butter.  It will also match well with grilled chicken, pork and veal.

Whether its called pinot gris or pinot grigio, the variety has emerged as a serious player on the American wine scene along with chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.  It's a welcome alternative in particular to those big California chardonnays that many wine drinkers have turned away from in search of graceful, leaner wines that are easier to drink.

Estancia's pinot grigio and Gallo's pinot gris are well worth a taste. Both are widely available.  You'll find the California wines more fruit forward than their Italian counterparts, but that, after all, is what California is all about, and in this case the results are delicious.

Edward Deitch's wine column appears Wednesdays. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at EdwardDeitch@hotmail.com.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer

    From the moment you hear the words ‘You have breast cancer,’ it’s almost like you’re shot out of a cannon. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed.

    10/1/2014 10:52:45 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:52:45
  2. Want to help? A guide to breast cancer charities

    In the United States an estimated 296,000 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and almost 40,000 women and 410 men will die of the disease. That's one death every 14 minutes, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

    10/1/2014 10:45:11 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:45:11
  3. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
  1. Nbc News

    9 things we learned from Brian Williams' Facebook chat

    10/2/2014 1:41:28 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:41:28
  1. Noel Vasquez / Getty Images Contributor

    Mila Kunis,  Ashton Kutcher welcome baby girl

    10/2/2014 1:24:09 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:24:09
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

    10/1/2014 7:30:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T19:30:52