Thanks to large producers like Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio wine has become a well-known name for New World wine drinkers. This light white wine is actually made from the Pinot Gris grape, which originated in France. The pale-straw-colored wine is characterized by fruit-forward notes that may include a smoky or almost honey-like component as well. The name Pinot Grigio typically refers to the wines produced in Northeastern Italy -- regions like Lombardy, Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli, and Trentino.
Best Pinot Grigio Wines
Palmina Wines, Lompoc, California
Palmina Wines in Lompoc, CA, produces a number of interesting wines, including a Pinot Grigio. Owner Steve Clifton caught on to Pinot Grigio's potential before it became a popular export to the United States. Once everyone started producing it in California, he stopped buying grapes from vineyard owners and planted his own. Utilizing Italian winemaking methods, he's captured the essence of the good qualities of Pinot Grigio that originated in northeastern Italy.
You can purchase Clifton's Pinot Grigio online (see applicable shipping states), or he has a list of distributors in various states, Canada, and even Japan. The 2013 vintage is currently available for $20.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace, France
This Alsatian powerhouse produces a number of Pinot Gris bottlings, made only with grapes grown in their own vineyards. These wines exemplify what is possible with the Pinot Gris grape. You'll find they vary slightly from the Italian style of Pinot Grigio as Pinot Gris in Alsace tends to be more full-bodied and sweeter in some cases. A great resource for understanding the typical flavor profiles and differences in Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris is Wine Folly, which has a whole guide to Pinot Grigio.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht was created in 1959 and the family has a history of winegrowing that dates back to the 1600's. Today, it's managed by Olivier Humbrecht, Master of Wine (MW). Multiple vintages have received over 90 point ratings from respected critics while Robert Parker gave three vintages a perfect 100 points each.
You can purchase Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris from specialty merchants like Berry Bros and Rudd in London. They offer online ordering and international shipping. Don't expect to pay less than $50 U.S. for a good Zind-Humbrecht here.
J Vineyards and Winery, Russian River Valley, California
J Vineyards 2013 Pinot Gris received 89 points from California Grapevine while previous vintages have garnered mentions from Ray Isle, Food & Wine's editor as one of the world's best Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines. J Vineyards currently offers three different Pinot Gris wines on their website, ranging from $17 to $28.
Mario Schiopetto, Friuli, Italy
Schiopetto is producing the Pinot Grigio del Collio DOC, which has earned mentions in the Wall Street Journal, a 90 point rating by Wine Advocate, and Winery of the Year in 2009 from Wine & Spirits Magazine. All DOC wines produced here follow the strict Italian regulations that cover the "Denomination of Origin" to include Collio on the label.
Schiopetto is considered by some to be one of the best producers in Friuli, maintaining a cult status both in Italy and abroad. Vinopedia has a good price comparison of what Schiopetto Pinot Grigio wines are available online and where to purchase them. Pricing ranges from approximately $23 to $40.
Scarbolo, Friuli, Italy
If you can get your hands on a Scarbolo Pinot Grigio Ramato XL, it's an incredible wine and quite a departure from some other Pinot Grigios on the market. Ramato means coppery and that comes through in the wine's intense color. This wine is aged with the skins for a couple weeks, extracting more color and flavor. Multiple vintages have received over 90 points from Robert Parker and Wine & Spirits as well. Check out Wine Searcher for price tracking history and merchants who may have a bottle in stock. Currently, the Scarbolo Pinot Grigio Ramato XL is running around $25 a bottle.
King Estate Winery, Eugene, Oregon
They call themselves the Kings of Pinot, and for good reason -- both King Esate's Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines have received a lot of acclaim. The Acrobat Pinot Grigio has received several 90 point scores, along with "100 Best Buy Wines" selection by Wine Enthusiast magazine. You can't beat the price point either at $12.99 on Wine.com.
Coppers Creek, Marlborough, New Zealand
Coppers Creek is proving that Italy, France, and the U.S. are not the only ones capable of producing quality Pinot Grigio. The 2014 "The Pointer" earned a gold medal at the International Aromatic Wine Competition while Snooth named the 2008 vintage one of the best Pinot Grigios on the market. Coppers Creek has wide distribution throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S. Check Coppers Creek's distribution page for various markets and retailers that carry the Pinot Grigio and check pricing once you've chosen the retailer closest to you.
St. Michael-Eppan, Alto Adige, Italy
St. Michael-Eppan is a co-operative at Alto Adige that works with over 350 growers to harvest the best fruit for their wines. The "Anger" Pinot Grigio has garnered a 91 score from Snooth while Gambero Rosso and Slow Food Wine Guide named St. Michael-Eppan as the best Italian winery of the year and Hans Terzer, one of the top 10 winemakers in the world (2000). Not surprisingly, wines can be difficult to find at times. Check sources like Wine Zap that list retailers who currently have inventory in stock. Pricing is affordable, at well under $20 a bottle.
Find Genuinely Good Pinot Grigios
Pinot Grigio has become one of the most popular white wines, but that has also led to an increase in criticism. Mass-produced Pinot Grigio wines have caused concerns regarding quality and overall degradation of the wine. It's been called "innocuous" by some sommeliers. However, the truth is that there are some genuinely good Pinot Grigio wines on the market; you just need to weed through the mass-market offerings.