I was in a local restaurant waiting to bring home dinner the other night and decided to have a glass of wine while I waited. Obviously, gentle readers, this is not something I would normally do, but I made an exception as they featured on their wine list a region I had not addressed on this blog. Every drink I take, I take for you.
So today it’s the Bollini Trentino Pinot Grigio 2010. Trentino is half of a region in the north of Italy, with the region as a whole known as Trentino-Alto Adige, nestled up against the alpine borders with Austria and Switzerland. The wine producing area of the overall region is a single main valley for the Adige River, with some cultivation extending into tributaries and side valleys. The northern half, Alto Adige, was part of Austria at one time, and German is widely spoken. The southern half, Trentino, is Italian-speaking. There is a catch-all DOC for the entire region, Valdadige (Etschtaler in German) and another large DOC for just the southern half into which today’s wine falls, DOC Trentino. There are a further number of smaller, geographically more specific DOCs within the confines of the greater DOC Trentino, and I hope to have an excuse to write about them at some point.
The climate in this part of the world is complicated. One might expect it to be cool so far to the north, particularly in such close proximity to mountains, but in fact the valleys on which vines are grown work as heat traps, warming up quickly in the summer. Also, while it’s in the north of Italy, it’s further south than the Loire Valley. Therefore producers are not limited exclusively to cooler climate varieties. Soil types range a great deal, but the notes for this wine in particular describe the vineyards as stony and alluvial. Other areas of DOC Trentino are described as gravelly-calcareous or as having a high percentage of clay.
DOC Trentino is best known for it varietal wines – 17 different grapes are allowed, with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon being the most important white and red respectively, along with a host of other international varieties, including Pinot Grigio. However, they are supplemented by some local favourites, particularly the red grapes Marzemino and Lagrein. Chardonnay-based Spumante is also produced in generous quantities, and a local take on Vin Santo, called Vino Santo, is made from the local white grape Nosiola.
Pinot Grigio is not an Italian grape, and no matter how many times I repeat that, I still can’t quite internalize it. It’s a French variety, known there as Pinot Gris, which makes perfect sense as I have no trouble placing the rest of the Pinot family in France. (I have come around slightly since the last time I wrote about Pinot Grigio where I was still calling it Italian.) I think my problem is that while you can certainly find French examples of Pinot Gris, mainly from Alsace, Italian Pinot Grigios are much more widely available internationally, and most of the New World versions of Pinot Gris/Grigio I’ve had have tended to be more Italian than French in style, even those bottled as Gris. (I haven’t had any from Oregon and only a few from New Zealand, where apparently they tend toward the Pinot Gris style.) And a quick note as to the international character of Pinot Gris/Grigio – in addition to being widely planted throughout the New World, there’s more Pinot Gris planted in Germany than there is in France, and it is also popular in Luxembourg, Austria, and throughout Eastern Europe.
Bollini is a family-run Italian producer, though more accurately it is a New Zealand-American family that produces Italian wines. The husband, Neil Empson, is a Kiwi with a long family tradition of winemaking going back to the first vines in Marlborough in 1852. His wife is American of Italian ancestry, and with their marriage came a partnership in the wine industry that has lasted 30 years. They started as merchants for boutique Italian wines, but within a decade they were producing wine under their own label. At present they produce five wines, four varietals from Trentino (this Pinot Grigio, a Chardonnay, a Merlot and a Pinot Noir), as well as Pinot Grigio from Friuli Grave a few regions over to the east.
In the glass this wine has a floral blossom on the nose, along with peach, pear, and tropical fruit. There’s a lot going on. On the palate there’s likewise pear, more tropical fruit, and a good body. However, the acidity is somewhat flabby, and it has a slightly sour pineapple candy finish that really disagreed with me.
I don’t like writing about what I don’t like about a wine – it’s not as much fun, frankly. However, this was not the wine for me. I’ve turned this around in my head a few times and I think I’ve finally sussed it – Italian Pinot Grigios are meant to be light in style with zingy acidity, as opposed to fuller French Pinot Gris. This was more the latter. So really it’s a matter of expectations. This is a well made wine, and not expensive, so if you are looking for a Pinot Gris style wine, this is good value. However, I was looking for more acidity and a less candied finish, and was glad to have just a glass.
The map location is the company’s office in Milan (250km by car from Trento), as I could not find a location for them in Trentino or Friuli Grave.