Attems Pinot Grigio 2018 $18.50

As one gets “into” wine there’s a number of stages you go through. At the start you’re enthralled by the wines that make you happy: California Chardonnay might be one, various types of rosé and, of course, Italian Pinot Grigio. And as you advance to the next few stages you may start to refine those initial loves. You seek out CaliChardonnay from the cool Sonoma Coast, you dive deep into the rosés of Bandol or Tavel, you…for the most part, drop Pinot Grigio altogether. Why? Sadly I fear the reason has more to do with the perception of the wine as the official drink of Ladies Who Lunch than with anything that’s actually going on in the glass.

But I’m here to say to hell with that. A properly made Pinot Grigio is a thing of delicate beauty and infinite joy and it rarely comes with a punitive price tag. For the longest time I’d use the Pinot Grigios of the legendary Alois Lageder as the standard-bearer of how great the grape can be in the hands of a master. But I came across this bottle at a recent tasting and was instantly charmed. For starters, it’s 30% cheaper than Lageder, and while I initially thought I had uncovered a small boutique producer, I later learned that Attems is owned by the very large concern that is Frescobaldi. But no matter, because it has the characteristics that take a Pinot Grigio out of the realm of the mundane: it focusses more on the citrus fruits than on the tropical fruits, it skews dry, it’s low in alcohol and there’s even a hint of flinty minerality on the finish. 

So if you’re in the stage where what you love most in wine is surprises, then this is right up your alley€”a Pinot Grigio with soul.