Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wine Blog Wednesday 41 - Friuli Wines.

For this edition of Wine Blog Wednesday, hosted by Jack and Joanne at Fork and Bottle (
I had hoped to find something a bit more exciting to write about than the wine that I eventually settled for. I say settled for, because I couldnt find anything better or more interesting to use, so I went back to the wine Im going to write about as an only resort. Now Italy is something of an achilles heel for me, its a region that Ive never really had much affinity for, and so Ive really struggled to get to know it very well. In the past, Ive never really had the imperative to get to know it, and so it has always languished somewhat in my knowledge, with occasional reminders that I really ought to be doing more about it. Working in Scotland for many years, there was never a great need to study the Italian wines as, surrounded by so many phenominal restaurants (Italian of course!) with amazing wine-lists chock full of the very best Italian wines (because the owner is cousin to.., uncle of.., nephew of... etc etc they are all related!!) there really was no point in even attempting to compete with them. As long as you had the required Chianti, the occasional supertuscan - Sassicaia, Tignanello, Ornellaia, Pergole Torte and perhaps a cheeky wee Orvieto then you had all your bases covered. And so it is that Ive been able to "get away with it" so to speak. Now I want to try and correct that, I need to focus on Italy, certainly if I want to progress further within the Court of Master Sommeliers, and I do, but more importantly because it is a weak area in my knowledge, and my pride in what i do requires that I action that. So I plan to invest some time, lots of money on books - Gamberro Rosso Guide, Vino Italiano (which happens to be the book on this month newly started wine bloggers book club) and Im hoping to track down an old copy of Burton Andersons Wine Atlas of Italy (currently about £150 on Call it a new years resolution if you will. Anyway, thats kind of why I was hoping to find something a bit better than the wine Ive ended up with, but despite looking, I failed in my quest, which is why the wine Im going to blog about is: Angoris Pinot Grigio from Isonzo del Fruili.

Now over the last year, Pinot Grigio seems to have been the must drink white wine in the UK. Over 2007 we shifted over 2,000 bottles of the stuff, compared to 4,000 bottles of the "house" white. Ive never really understood the appeal, personally, because I find Pinot Grigio generally to be thin, insipid and just completely lacking, and hence I kind of came to the conclusion that it was drunk by people who felt they ought to be drinking wine, but in actual fact DIDNT LIKE wine. By the time it is chilled down, you are drinking what seems like vaguely alcoholic water. There just isnt any flavour there!! Yet when you compare it to something like an Alsace Pinot Gris they are chalk and cheese - despite being made from the same grape! Now maybe its the fermenting tanks - often huge ancient oak barrels in Alsace compared to huge stainless steel tanks in Italy. Maybe its something else. I dont know for sure, but I know that I just dont get it. But the customers are obviously seeing something Ive maybe missed so heres my chance to give it a shot and see.
The Angoris estate can trace its history back over 300 years. Its original owners were the noble Locatelli family, and over the last three hundred years it has swapped hands three times, lately to the Locatelli family (not sure if they are related) in the late 60's. Their vineyards are quite extensive and the Pinot Grigio comes from vineyards in the heart of the Isonzo del Fruili D.o.C region. A few years ago they changed their packaging to a more streamlined bordeaux style bottle which I must say looks very good. So whats it like? The colour is quite a pale lemon, bright and clear with a watery rim. On the nose there really isnt very much, a hint of light white flowers, some citrus fruit and thats about it. Even at cellar temp the nose doesnt really pick up. On the palate there is more flavour than the aromas, but not much. Again citrus seems quite dominant with lemons and a touch of grapefruit - possibly ruby grapefruit. There isnt much length to the wine, the flavours seem to dissapate very soon, but i guess that is why people tend to scoop it down and drink another bottle!! This wine would retail for about £9, and I think I would be a bit disappointed paying that. I have to say it was a bit better than I had expected it to be, but it hasnt really changed my opinion of Pinot Grigio especially. Perhaps Im being a wine snob, but I really cant see why we sell so much of this, but as long as the customers are loving it, then maybe I am missing something.


Jack at Fork & Bottle said...

I think the reason may be is that these inexpensive Pinot Grigios are: 1) Easy-to-drink, and 2) Go with a lot of foods. So, despite being boring, they're not obnoxious.

Gordon Fong (Bournemouth) said...

I liked your musings on Pinot Grigio.

I have a friend who loves the stuff but in reality she doesn't like any of the good stuff.

It probably boils down to people who just want a "drink" as opposed to seeking something to enjoy and challenge the palette.