Wine of the Week: May 11

Hello Everyone,

I’m beginning to dream about Italy again, suffering a little as this will be the first time in 10 years that I won’t see it. But planning a trip is half the fun, and I’m planning now to go back next spring.  I’ll visit some places I haven’t seen in a while, and some I’ve never seen before.  But all of them have great wines.

Try a new wine this week!


Pitars Pinot Grigio

The Austria Alps border it to the north, and Slovenia—part of the old Yugoslavia (“southern slavs”) is to its east.  The southern capital is the port city of Trieste, beside the azure waters of the Adriatic.  And between its sunny beaches and northern snowcapped peaks are gravelly plains and rolling foothills, dotted with Roman ruins, medieval villages and manicured vineyards.  The area is as much Middle European as Italian.  For that matter, in all of its long history, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia been a part of Italy only for the past hundred years or so.

You might imagine already that its wines are unique, too.  Some of the grapes they grow there aren’t seen in other places, at least not much.  Reds like Refosco and Schiopettino and whites like Verduzzo (especially the sweet Ramandolo), Picolit, Ribolla Gialla and Friulano (until recently called Tokai Friulano), are traditional here.  For a wine lover, it’s like a whole new wine list full of exciting experiences.

Like most wine regions, it’s divided into defined subregions.  Some of the better known names are Colli Orientali, with its hilly vineyards in the east near Slovenia, Colli Goriziano, around the medieval border town of Gorizia, also near Slovenia, and Grave, an inland area with some of the best rain-draining gravel beds outside Bordeaux.

And one of the things they do best is one of the world’s most popular springtime white wines, pinot grigio.  Just as there’s a difference between a five-dollar chardonnay and a fifty dollar one, not all pinot grigio is the same.  Friulian Pinot Grigio is crisp, typically unoaked, and intensely flavored, subtly spiced with the minerals drawn up from the vine’s roots, into the vines and ultimately in the grapes.  I found a good one there a few years ago called Pitars, named for the Pittaro brothers of Grave’s Cantina San Martine al Tagliamento.  I just call it Pitars.

Pitars Pinot Grigio is from the Venezia part of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.  The Grave District is known for its gravelly subsoil, which provides vital vineyard drainage and concentrates the  flavors in the grapes. It retails in the $10-$15 range.

Categories: Food