Type: Dry white
What makes it special: Italian grape finding a great home in Santa Barbara county.
Plays well with: Salads, seafood, creamy sauces.
We are celebrating this humble, but lovely treat of a wine for a couple reasons.
First up, we do want to make note of the TAPAS Grand Tasting in San Francisco this weekend, one of the wineries pouring is winemaker Richard Longoria, who made this pinot grigio – even though it’s not one of the wines featured by the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society. TAPAS is, of course, about the Spanish grapes – tempranillo, garnacha albariño.
Longoria is going to be one of 44 wineries showing their wares to upwards of 1500 consumers. Address, ticket prices (there are still some left) and more information can be gotten at the TAPAS site, tapasociety.org
The other reason is that we love pinot grigio. In the same way that sangiovese got a bad rap after years of cheap bottlings in straw baskets, pinot grigio got tagged with being a largely blah, insipid tasteless product produced cheaply for export from its native Italy.
Now, we ask you – is that any way to treat a perfectly nice, inoffensive little grape? We don’t think so and, fortunately, neither does Mr. Longoria and a bunch of other growers in Santa Barbara county, near the Santa Rita Hills and Santa Ynez regions.
Thanks to them, pinot grigio is making a comeback, finding a new soul and a backbone.
The Longoria 2009 Pinot Grigio is clean looking and smells fresh without being too fruity. But there’s plenty of crisp fruit in the taste, including peaches and honeydew melon. It’s light in the mouth, and there are plenty of thirst-quenching acids to help cleanse the palate between bites of something tasty on a lazy afternoon.
There’s also a great feel of minerality to the wine similar to the added minerals in your bottled water. Consider it a feature of the terroir of the Santa Barbara region, which is finally getting some attention these days and not just for the abundance of chardonnay in the area.
This isn’t the cheapest wine on the market, but it is perfect for that special summer picnic. Just don’t try holding onto it for long. Pinot grigio – even the best of them – won’t age and should be as transitory as that lazy summer afternoon.