About four or five years ago we officially became a Pinot Grigio store when Chardonnay sales were eclipsed for the first time by the lighter simpler thirst quencher. As might be expected it's particularly in the summertime when pinot clearly outsells the other and then when the temperature drops in the fall, Chardonnay picks up again. In recent months two of our most popular pinots have been Villa Pozzi and Barone Montalto, both inexpensive examples sourced from Sicily. Since the lion's share of pinot comes from the opposite end of the country in Veneto, I found it curious that these two were such hits with our locals, giving me reason enough to research this a bit.
Truth be told, I really don't taste Pinot Grigio critically. I assume the wine is going to be light and simple, a "less is more" kind of thing in 90 degree temperatures and these two are both made in that style but perhaps with a noticeable difference. They are both fresh, crisp, and lemony in their appeal with a nuanced fruit compote (sans the spices) in the middle before finishing with a honeyed, floral, nutty component. In other words, this style of pinot seems more inviting at the beginning and more satisfying at the finish than most on the market. It really is perfect for the season and kudos to my customer base for discovering this model.
So how does Sicily create such a charmer? Both wines come from the Marsala region of northwestern Sicily, which by the way, is a hilly, rocky island. The hillside pinot vineyards offer the kind of difficult circumstances which grape vines love and the sea breezes not only cool the Mediterranean temperatures but refresh the fruit at the same time. There was a time when I would have questioned this kind of speculative theory about why things can develop the way they do, but now I have become convinced. I wouldn't be surprised if such grapes retain a level of salinity from the sea breezes further contributing to the appeal.
This Friday starting at 5pm join us for a tasting of high end Spanish reds and more as Tommy Basham of Continental Beverage presents his serious array of red dinner wines along with fine examples of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Chardonnay for the season. On Friday the 25th David Hobbs of Prime Wines presents the fine fare of Ole Imports again featuring Spanish wines. On August 8th Taylor Moore of Eagle Rock sets out several Italians and Californians for our consideration. Please join us for all of these events.