No white wine from Italy is more recognizable than Pinot Grigio, which is almost synonymous with Italian whites. This is both good and bad — good in that the variety has been a bonanza for Italian wine in general; bad in that mass production has led to a plethora of generic, nondescript Pinot Grigios, which nonetheless have met the demand for a glass of “white wine” in countless restaurants. One that rises well above the “all-purpose white” category is Castello Banfi’s 2019 “San Angelo” Pinot Grigio Toscana, from Tuscany.
Tuscany is not particularly known for its Pinot Grigios; that distinction lies with more northerly Italian regions, such as Lombardy, Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. But Banfi has found great success with the grape in warmer Tuscany, and its 2019 “San Angelo” Pinot Grigio is only the latest example of that.
The wine is made from estate grapes grown in Montalcino, is bottled a few months after harvest, and has been remarkably consistent. (Checking my files, I had the same impression of the wine going back to the first time I reviewed it more than a dozen years ago.)
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That impression is all about freshness and delightful fruit. While Pinot Grigio is often thought of as a quaffing wine, serving it too cold, as with all whites, obscures the tastes. As the Banfi Pinot Grigio warms up in the bottle and glass, the fruit emerges — green apple, tropical fruit, some lemon and grapefruit, accents of herbs and minerals, and a hint of cream softening the finish. Alcohol is just 12.5 percent, so while the wine is indeed relatively light in feel, it has a nice complexity that makes it seem more substantial.
It’s perfect for fish and shellfish, a variety of Asian dishes, all kinds of appetizers, and on its own as an aperitif. It’s one of dozens of Tuscan wines produced by Banfi, a large American-owned company with Italian roots that established Castello Banfi in 1978, and is best known for Brunello di Montalcino and other red wines from the Sangiovese grape. And the price is right — it costs an average of $16, according to Wine-Searcher.