Poor Pinot Grigio: When crafted with care and attention to detail, and from fruit that hasn’t been overcropped, it has the potential to be stunning. The problem is that, over the years, it’s become synonymous with insipid, mass-produced plonk that rarely rises to the level of interesting, much less inspiring.
But all hope is not lost. Producers like Silvio Jermann, Cantina Terlan and Elena Walch, among others, are not just challenging what has unfortunately become received Pinot Grigio wisdom, but they are doing so with style and substance to spare, crafting bottlings that are utterly delicious.
I recently received samples of two standouts from Elena Walch, and recommend them strongly: They’re not only delicious on their own terms, but they also just may change your perception of Pinot Grigio in general.
Elena Walch Pinot Grigio 2013, Alto Adige
Bright aromas of hard apple and Seckel pear are framed with a distinct minerality and a hint of lime and lemon. On the palate, this is bracing, with slate-like minerality joining fresh squeezed lime and a hint of lemon verbena, and the finish speaks of slate, granite, springtime flowers, and citrus. Vivid, brisk, and detailed. Drink now - 2016.
Elena Walch Pinot Grigio “Castel Ringberg” 2012, Alto Adige
Almost white-Rhone-like on the nose, with wax, apricots, heady stone fruits and a subtle sense of spice, as well as a background note of warm mineral. On the palate, this has weight-giving depth to its lemon-juice-brightened flavors of hard apricot and peach, crunchy apple, and a touch of honey on the finish. Layered and elegant with muscle pulsing through it. Drink now - 2018+.