May 17th is Pinot Grigio Day, and in honor of the wine-day we turned to Sommelier and Wine Blogger, Sarah Tracey (aka @thelushlife) to help us explore the region of Trentino where our beloved Lot 42 Pinot Grigio is made. Pour yourself a glass and join us, and Sarah, in raising a toast to Pinot Grigio Day!
If you're a white wine lover, chances are Pinot Grigio is one of your 'go-to's– and it's easy to understand why! It's typically light, dry, crisp, and food-friendly. But, when it's a premium example from an extraordinary growing region like Italy's Trentino, it's not just a pleasantly safe option– it can be a transcendent experience! Let's explore 90+ Cellars Lot 42 Pinot Grigio and why Trentino is ideal for growing this grape.
Origin of Pinot Grigio
Many think of Pinot Grigio as the consummate Italian white– but, like many of the world's great wines, its origins are actually in France, where it's known as Pinot Gris. You might be familiar with another famous member of the Pinot family: Pinot Noir, whose ancestral home is Burgundy. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir with a lower amount of anthocyanins, which contribute to a grape's pigment.
According to experts like David Lett, Pinot Gris was interplanted among Pinot Noir in Burgundy and co-fermented to soften any of the Pinot Noir's rough edges. It was also widely planted in the Champagne region. From there, vines were brought to Switzerland and then Hungary in the 1300s. And, eventually, to Northern Italy!
Fun fact: 'Pinot' is based on the Latin root 'pin'- meaning pine, because the grape clusters are pinecone-shaped. 'Grigio' means 'gray,' as the grape clusters have a mottled pinkish-gray appearance.
Trentino: Ideal for Pinot Grigio
Trentino (half of the Trentino-Alto Adige region) is Italy's northern-most grape growing region. It stretches from the foothills of the Italian Alps– the Dolomites– to Lake Garda. Having been there to visit, I can personally attest that it's one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful winegrowing regions in the world, with dramatic mountain peaks and gorgeous sun-dappled valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, alpine lakes, and fairytale villages. At one time, this area was ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so many of the locals speak German, and you can see that influence in much of the local cuisine and culture.
And why is this region so ideal for Pinot Grigio? The high elevation Apline vineyards provide lots of cool mountain air, which helps preserve the natural acidity of Pinot Grigio (when planted in a warmer area, this grape variety can express itself as a little flat or flabby; acidity is what gives us that beautifully crisp, mouthwatering quality). The wines from Trentino possess that crisp structure thanks to their cool climate with broad diurnal shifts (meaning, very warm days and very cool evenings). Thanks to strong, persistent sunshine in Trentino, the grapes still achieve ripeness even in cooler vintages (under-ripe Pinot Grigio can taste quite bitter). Finally, the soils of Trentino are filled with volcanic minerals and calcareous limestone. That combination of soil, temperature, and sunshine produces a genuinely magical wine that's at once delicate and flavorful.
An excellent example of top-quality Trentino Pinot Grigio is 90+ Cellars Lot 42 Pinot Grigio. With hand-harvested grapes and vinification in stainless steel tanks to allow the fruit to shine, this wine will transport you straight to a charming Alpine village. It has aromas of wildflowers, fresh streams flowing over river rocks, and juicy pear. On the palate, it's medium-bodied and mouthwatering, with more ripe pear and fresh green apple notes and a hint of lemon pith and savory minerality in the finish.
What to Pair with Trentino Pinot Grigio
Nowhere is food and wine closer to the heart of culture than Italy! After all, in Italy, a man is never 'drunk'; he just 'hasn't had enough food yet'...
Wine is a part of the table in Italy, and food is rarely served without it. Pinot Grigio is the ideal wine for Aperitivo: the hour at the end of the workday when everyone comes together for a cheers and a snack. "What grows together goes together" is a valuable pairing mantra. Look for cow's milk cheeses from the region: one that's pretty easy to find in the US is Fontal, a cross between Fontina and Emmental. I think it's the ideal cheese pairing. Also traditional to the region is Speck, a smoked cured ham. Add some fresh fruit and crusty bread, and you have the ingredients for a truly pleasurable spread perfect for spring and summer picnics– but delicious any time of the year.