In praise of pinot grigio: don’t forget the obvious

  • Popular choice: if you Google a list of the most popular wine grapes in the world, the highest position I have found for pinot grigio is 12th

Michael Robinson

So I found myself wandering around the office this morning asking for ideas on what to write about as it was one of those days when “the lights were on but nobody was home”.

“How about pinot grigio?” Phil said. “Too obvious,” I said.

“Look at how much we sell,” he said. He had a good point, so here goes:

Firstly, let me say that if you Google a list of the most popular wine grapes in the world, the highest position I have found for pinot grigio is 12th. You would never suspect it in Bermuda, as here I would think that it slugs it out with sauvignon blanc for the top spot overall.

The latter probably has the edge, much due to the strength of this grape from New Zealand. Well-made pinot grigio just suits our climate and lifestyle and, if you have not noticed, we do have quite an Italian influence on our restaurant scene.

We may as well start with the one that, back in 1960, decided to make a white wine by not allowing the juice to make any contact with the dusty grey skins of the pinot grigio grape. I believe that it has been the number one asked- for white wine in Bermuda, or certainly in the top handful, for well over 20 years.

I refer to Santa Margherita, who are working towards a global organic certification as their winemakers employ “extreme organic farming”. Their wines are vegan-friendly as they abandoned animal byproducts like egg yolks and gelatin and instead use bentonite clay for fining. Some of their production is completely carbon-neutral as they employ solar panels. They join with so many vineyard owners and winemakers that take our influence on climate so seriously.

The Santa Margherita 2016 Pinot Grigio from Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy is dry with a straw-yellow colour. Its clean, intense aroma is enhanced by flavours of Golden Delicious apples, lime zest and lemon grass. $19.70.

Santa Margherita has a second range of lower-priced wines called Torresella and they come from the hills of Veneto that are situated north of the city of Venice. Their 2016 Torresella Pinot Grigio that we sell for $15.35 is just being introduced to our market. It is a pale straw-coloured wine with an intense aroma of white-fleshed stone fruits, ripe citrus and smooth, delicate flavours that linger on the palate.

Our most reasonably priced pinot grigio, at $13.45, is Pasqua 2015 Pinot Grigio Della Venezie. It is fragrant and fruity and not lacking in structure. On the nose it offers acacia blossom along with pear-like hints that, well chilled, are just fine on a hot summer evening.

The brainchild of my friends of many years, Maria and Neil Empson, is Bollini Pinot Grigio 2015 Trentino-Alto Adige.

It shows fragrant bouquet, elegant, delicately focused white fruit flavours and a slightly flinty quality on the palate.

The texture is crisp and clean in the mouth, with superb acid balance and a subtle nuttiness on the finish.

An excellent aperitif white wine and a great choice for parties because it matches beautifully with a wide range of appetisers, especially fried calamari, oysters, clams and crab.

Here is what writer James Suckling has to say about it: “A white with lemon rind and sliced apple character. Medium body. Green lemon and lime. Screw cap. Drink now. 90/100.” $16.90.

Last year, we stayed in the 11th century Castello di Gabbiano in Tuscany and it is a place where you can book one of their 11 rooms or five apartments, enjoy their top-notch restaurant and more than 200 acres of vineyards, olive groves and woods.

Of course there is a wine shop. On May 29 Castello di Gabbiano received ISO 14001 Certificate of Conformity, the voluntary standard most used internationally for the implementation of an environmental management system. This document has a very important meaning for the property.

Castello di Gabbiano 2015 Promessa Pinot Grigio is pale yellow in colour with aromas of ripe pear, citrus with tropical notes; also it is dry and light-bodied, with citrus, mineral and apple flavours. $15.75.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit<;/i>