Pinot Grigio is one of the top white wine grapes of northern Italy, producing oceans of light, high-acid quaffing wine, but rarely bottles that are particularly memorable.
Also known as Pinot Gris, the variety has a longer history of producing quality wines in France, particularly in Alsace, and is grown by a number of producers in California. One that rises above many from California is the 2018 North Coast Pinot Grigio from Castello di Amorosa.
The Napa Valley winery near Calistoga is, as the name suggests, a modern-day, Tuscan-style castle, a monument to the Italian roots of its owner, Dario Sattui, whose great-grandfather began making wine in California in the late 1800s.
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Castello di Amoroso’s $24 Pinot Grigio is one of the more exciting examples of the variety I have tasted — a blend of the vibrant freshness you would find in a northern Italian Pinot Grigio and the opulent fruit and mouthfeel you would expect from California.
“Clean, crisp, and delightful” came to mind right away. The combination of flavors is irresistible: Apple, pear, melon, and citrus are accented by baking spice and floral notes, with minerals and vanilla on the long finish. Alcohol is an ample 14.4 percent, somewhat higher than, say, a typical Italian Pinot Grigio. But the wine’s superb balance makes that an afterthought.
The wine is aged in stainless steel and is made for fish and shellfish dishes. Try it as well with roast chicken, mild cheeses, and other appetizers, and on its own as a refreshing aperitif.
One other note about Castello di Amorosa: It is a direct-to-consumer winery, selling its wines only through its website. They can be shipped to most states at a minimal charge. Indeed, Castello di Amorosa’s Pinot Grigio, and a rosé I reviewed not long ago, are excellent values.