Drinks: Wines
Location: Chile, South America

Varietal Classics: Pinot Grigio
A frankly disgraceful showing by Italy was largely redeemed by a surprise hit from an unexpected quarter

Oh dear. The fact that Pinot Grigio has been one of the success stories of the wine trade over the last 10 years is undeniable. The fact that this has been largely to the bemusement of the trade has been equally true. And on the evidence to follow, such bafflement is justified.

A good number of Pinot Grigios were sent in under the Varietal Classic banner (under £12) and most of them were Italian. The paucity of success says a great deal, as does the reaction of the judges.

‘Disgusting’, ‘disgraceful’, ‘hideous’: the tasters were not slow in venting their disappointment with this flight.

‘There are wines here for £9 ex-VAT that are totally undrinkable,’ said Nicola Thomson. ‘And they have so many faults. Pinot Grigio is a must-stock wine, but most of these were a lot of money for what they were.’

Common issues were a general dilution and a rasping acidity – probably caused by over-cropping. A further part of the tasters’ anger was caused by a general feeling that there was a good deal of cynical winemaking going on here.

‘Pinot Grigio sells, so why bother making it properly,’ said one taster darkly. ‘It’s cynical profiteering.’

All in all, if this was a fair reflection of the kind of wines that are coming in under the PG label, it’s a sorry comment on the state of the UK trade. ‘It’s sad that producers out there think that consumers want to drink this, and even sadder that they probably do,’ lamented Christine Parkinson, with the faint, despairing whiff of a Left Bank poet.

Fortunately, there was one ray of light in the gloom. Step forward Morandé Pinot Grigio, from Chile’s Casablanca Valley, which our tasters genuinely loved. ‘It’s more of a food wine. It’s got texture and elegance on the palate,’ said Hakkasan’s Roberto Loppi. Loppi was right. The wine went on to prove its worth in the food-match taste-off a week later, pairing beautifully with some scallops, and winning a By The Glass Award.

‘£7 is a serious amount of money for a Pinot Grigio, but at least the quality is there,’ said Mikaël Hannequin.


Morande Reserva Pinot Grigio 2010, Casablanca Valley, Chile
£7 @ Bottle Green
  Complexity, zest and aromatics won the day with this good-value Pinot Grigio. ‘Nice expressive fragrance of lime and green apple,’ said Mikaël Hannequin. ‘It develops gently in the mouth, with a full, zesty, punchy finish,’ said Sarah Jane Evans MW.

“This [Italian flight] was one of the worst flights I can remember in four years of judging at the Sommelier Wine Awards. ” Tom Forrest, Team Leader

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