by Fred McMillin
for June 10, 1998
The Gray Grape
Much Pinot Grigio makes pretty dreary drinking, since the grape characteristically looses acid rapidly at full ripening. However, improved clonal selection has precipitated a renewal of enthusiasm in California.
...Master of Wine Jancis Robinson
The gray grape (called Pinot Gris in France, Pinot Grigio in Italy) evolved from the Pinot Noir in Burgundy some seven centuries ago. Emperor Charles IV thought enough of it to send cuttings to Hungary in 1375.
As to that loss of refreshing acid at full ripening, one solution was to harvest the grapes early. However, at that stage flavors are not fully developed; hence, those "dreary" white wines.
But, California's Bargetto Winery has gone for the better clones instead of premature harvesting...very successfully. Here's the wine.
1997 Pinot Grigio, Central Coast, CA.
Why do the Bargettos use the Italian Grigio name instead of the French Gris? The Santa Cruz Mountains winery was founded in 1933 by the brothers Philip and John Bargetto, born in Piedmont, Italy.
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