Pinot Grigio is considered one of the great Alsatian white wines and is also one of the most widespread grape varieties in the north-eastern regions of Italy (Friuli, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige). The shape of the Pinot Grigio grape cluster is reminiscent of a pinecone, because the berries are small and very close together. In fact, the word "Pinot" derives from the French "pin", meaning pine. In all likelihood, Pinot Grigio derives from a mutation of Pinot Noir - which is one of the most popular and well-known black berried grapes in the world. Pinot Noir, born in France and then becoming an international grape, has in fact transformed over the centuries into other varieties: Pinot Bianco, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Grigio.
One of the first mentions of Pinot Grigio has been traced in some ancient historical documents dating back to 1375, when it seems that the French sold the wine in Hungary and Germany, where it was called "Rulander". It arrived in Italy a few centuries later, at the end of the 19th century, together with the other French varietals, and was planted in the northern regions. Pinot Grigio is grown in areas with cold and constant climates because it suffers from sudden changes in temperature and heat. Consequently, its host regions are Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Lombardy. Of the 67,000 worldwide hectares planted with Pinot Grigio, 31,360 are located in Italy, especially in the area called "Venezie", which gave rise to the creation of a specific denomination of controlled origin - Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC - and the related disciplinary production.
The taste of Pinot Grigio differs according to the production area and the winemaking method. For example, in particularly cold areas the wine will have body and structure, while the flavor will be fruitier if subjected to higher temperatures. If vinified in contact with the skins, the color will be coppery, otherwise the appearance will be lighter and clearer. The variety of styles available on the market is also reflected in the variety of the shelf prices. In the collections of Cantine Leonardo da Vinci there are two Pinot Grigio: Dama con l'Ermellino Pinot Grigio Rubicone IGT from the 1502 Da Vinci in Romagna line and Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC from the Vitruviano line. The first note on the nose is the aroma of broom flowers and jasmine with a herbaceous undertone, with a freshness which is maintained on the palate. The second, subtler and fruitier note recalls apple and pear and gives a perfectly balanced sip.
The versatility of Pinot Grigio also translates into various food pairing possibilities, so much so that it is considered a wine suitable to all courses. Pinot Grigio is opened to start the meal as the aperitif or to pair with appetizers based on cold cuts or seafood. It is ideal for tasty fish dishes, appetizers seasoned with vegetable or mushroom sauces, cheeses and white meats or eggs. The more complex and full-bodied versions are, the better Pinot Grigio will pairs well to risotto or spicy dishes.
Pinot Grigio is particularly popular in the US and during the lockdown it became the “domestic wine” of American families who ate their meals at home. This is demonstrated by an increase in consumption during the pandemic ranging from + 15% to + 30% in the American market.