As I said the other day, I was lucky enough to be invited to a lunch and tasting by Swanson Vineyards. The first wine that was served was their Swanson 2006 Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio is currently one of my favorite white grapes, and Swanson Vineyards is the second largest producer of it in Napa.
The great thing about Pinto Grigio is that it is such a versatile grape that produces exceptionally food-friendly wines. Wine snobs sometimes like to make fun of it, but does anyone really care what that particular class of buffoons think? Pinot Grigio is light, high-acid, relatively delicate wine. Other than those descriptors, it can be hard to get a handle on this grape, as it varies from region to region, and often even within the regions.
Stylistically, Swanson describes their wine as being somewhere between the Italian and the Alsatian styles. Works for me. It has the crisp, clean flavor that Italian Pinot Grigio is known for, with no oak or malolactic fermentation, and just the slightest hint of fizziness, but it has a bit more richness, spice and a floral nose in the style of the Alsatian varieties. It is aged on its lees, adding to the complexity.
This is a very drinkable wine, and it goes well with a wide variety of food. A simply cooked piece of fish or chicken would be elevated to something special with a glass. It was also well matched with such diverse dishes as beef carpaccio, shrimp and grits, and a spanish influenced seafood dish.
For me, this is a near perfect example of Pinot Grigio as it is based purely on the flavor of the grapes. With grapes this tasty, that is a very good thing. Swanson’s tasting notes for this say:
“Crafted from several carefully selected clones, this wine is Italian in its crisp,
refreshing style and evokes Alsace in its round mouth feel. Lychee, grapefruit, lemon zest,
pear and peach aromas echo on the palate, evoking the essence of fresh, perfectly ripe
Pinot Grigio grapes. Remarkably versatile, this wine is sensational as an aperitif, as an
accompaniment to cheese, white wine-friendly and Mediterranean cuisines.”
That is a very good description and I won’t try and improve on it. Swanson 2006 Pinot Grigio has 13.5% alcohol, and recieved 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. A quick price search shows that it can be purchased nationwide for anywhere between $15 to $20. That qualifies as a bargain in my book.