Riff Pinot Grigio 2004
A fourth generation winery owner and winemaker in Alto Adige, Alois Lageder's long-standing credibility with wine growers gives him access to some of the region's best Pinot Grigio wines for this special selection.
Alois Lageder carefully selects the wines on-site; they are sur lie-matured in stainless steel tanks, then blended and bottled at his Lšwengang winemaking facilities. riff Pinot Grigio reflects the origin of its prime growing area in style and character, and demonstrates all the varietal's best characteristics: good structure and intensity on the palate, balanced with lively acidity.
Most vineyards in the region are located on the slopes of the foothills of the Dolomites, a part of the Alps that dictate the climate and bless the region with some of the most prized alluvial soils. These soils are composed of dolomite, a limestone made of fossil deposits of an ancient ocean that covered this region 4.6 million years ago. The name riff (German for reef), thus refers to the Dolomite's geologic origin.
The vineyard sources for most of this Pinot Grigio contain a substantial amount of dolomite limestone which has an obvious impact on the wine's character and style. It is because of the contribution that these fossils (limestone) make to the wine's character that they have been chosen to be incorporated into the label design as a reminder of its geological origin.
Trentino, the southern half, is primarily Italian-speaking and largely responsible for the production of non-native, international grapes. There is a significant quantity of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Merlot produced. But Trentino's native and most unique red variety, Teroldego, while still rare, is gaining popularity. It produces a deeply colored red wine rich in wild blackberry, herb, coffee and cocoa.
The rugged terrain of German-speaking Alto Adige (also referred to as Südtirol) focuses on small-scale viticulture, with great value placed on local varieties—though international varieties have been widely planted since the 1800s. Sheltered by the Alps from harsh northerly winds, many of the best vineyards are at extreme altitude but on steep slopes to increase sunlight exposure.
The primary white grapes are Pinot grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot blanc, as well as smaller plantings of Sauvignon blanc, Müller Thurgau. These tend to be bright and refreshing with crisp acidity and just the right amount of texture. Some of the highest quality Pinot grigio in Italy is made here.
Showing a unique rosy, purplish hue upon full ripeness, this “white” variety is actually born out of a mutation of Pinot Noir. The grape boasts two versions of its name, as well as two generally distinct styles. In Italy, Pinot Grigio achieves most success in the mountainous regions of Trentino and Alto Adige as well as in the neighboring Friuli—all in Italy’s northeast. France's Alsace and Oregon's Willamette Valley produce some of the world's most well-regarded Pinot Gris wine. California produces both styles with success.
Tasting Notes for Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is a dry, white wine naturally low in acidity. Pinot Grigio wines showcase signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear and almond. Alsatian styles are aromatic (think rose and honey), richly textured and sometimes relatively higher in alcohol compared to their Italian counterpart. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is often light and charming.
Perfect Food Pairings for Pinot Grigio
The viscosity of a typical Alsatian Pinot Gris allows it to fit in harmoniously with the region's rich foods like pork, charcuterie and foie gras. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its citrusy freshness, works well as an aperitif wine or with seafood and subtle chicken dishes.
Sommelier Secrets for Pinot Grigio
Given the pinkish color of its berries and aromatic potential if cared for to fully ripen, the Pinot Grigio variety is actually one that is commonly used to make "orange wines." An orange wine is a white wine made in the red wine method, i.e. with fermentation on its skins. This process leads to a wine with more ephemeral aromas, complexity on the palate and a pleasant, light orange hue.