Wine Review: 2009 Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio delle Venezie

27 08 2011

Time to quit you, Pinot Grigio. Tiefenbrunner, this isn't your fault.

Dear Pinot Grigio,

I’m sorry.  I try hard to keep an open mind, accept that wine comes in many forms, and expose myself to as many of the world’s different and unique grapes and regions as I can.  But I just can’t do it anymore.  You don’t need me anyway:  you’re enormously popular, synonymous with patios and summer, one of the most successful wine exports to North America of all time, an A-list (well, maybe B-list) grape.  But you’re just so…well, BORING.  When people try to describe you to PG newbies, they inevitably fall back on words like “neutral”, “crisp” and “refreshing”.  You know what else is neutral, crisp and refreshing?  Water.  And it doesn’t cost $20 a bottle.  I had held out hope that you had something of intrigue to offer, that I just hadn’t found the right bottle that would expose me to your inner wonders, but now I don’t think that bottle exists.  I think you are what you are, which is part of your allure — your devotees always know what they’re getting — but is also your greatest shortcoming.  When I can’t bring myself to get excited about opening a bottle of wine, there’s a problem, and in this case that problem is you.  I think I’m moving on.

I should be clear that there’s nothing particularly wrong with tonight’s bottle of Pinot Grigio:  it comes from a reputable producer and delivers what it should for its price point, and there’s nothing offensive about it.  But after drinking two and a half glasses of it, I couldn’t keep from asking myself:  “How am I supposed to write about this?”  I normally pity reviewers in wine magazines who have to condense an entire analysis of a bottle of wine into 50 words or less, but now I kind of wish I was in their shoes.  There’s just not much to say, because Pinot Grigio (unlike Pinot Gris, the same grape grown and vinified in very different ways) isn’t overly complex, flavourful or interesting.  Here’s what it is:

  • Totally transparent.  What colour there is comes across an extremely pale straw hue.
  • Not overly aromatic.  It took some swirling to get the scents moving in the glass, and even then there wasn’t much to note beyond a sharp lemon aroma, some (very) green apple and underlying mineral notes.
  • Light, tart, clean and crisp.  The Tiefenbrunner was bone dry and had a light-to-medium body, very high acidity, the same citrus/green fruit notes as on the nose and a cheek-puckering finish with slightly strange chlorine/swimming pool flavours at the very end.

Stelvin Rating: 3.5/10 (Props for adding writing on the screwcap, but isn't "cork free" sort of self-evident when written on a twist top?)

That’s pretty much it.  In the genre of $20 Italian Pinot Grigios, this marks it a moderate success (Wine Spectator scores this line of releases from Tiefenbrunner in the mid-to-high 80s across multiple vintages), but it doesn’t make it any more interesting to drink than vodka and water with a twist of lime.  That $20 of your wine budget can be used on so much more.  If you like crisp whites, fine, but how about one with a personality like an Alsatian, Austrian or Washington State Riesling, a New Zealand or Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, or even a wine off the beaten path like the incredible Botani Muscat that I reviewed a few weeks ago?  When it comes to wine, boring is not good — it’s time to take a stand.

84 points

$20 to $25 CDN 
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