Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tiny Bubbles--2005 Contadino Pinot Grigio Frizzante


My partner is at a conference up north and I'm on my own tonight so I get to make whatever I want for dinner and drink something fun, fizzy, and not so alcoholic that I'm going to be asleep by 7:30. The answer came to me from JohnG's blog, quaffability. (I nicked this picture from his blog--thanks, JohnG.) JohnG's site specializes in wine that's mostly from Trader Joe's and mostly under $12. As he says on the site, "we taste it so you don't have to." Check it out!

The 2005 Contadino Pinot Grigio Frizzante is fun to drink and available in my area at Trader Joe's for a staggeringly low $3.99. Even though it was frizzante, it had strong varietal characteristics of Pinot Grigio. Given these characteristics, and its unbelievably low price, I'm going to say this is excellent QPR.

I certainly wasn' t expecting much going in. Most wines that are this inexpensive have no varietal characteristics whatsoever--you know, the chardonnays that taste like microwaved popcorn and the merlots that taste like some indefinable Red Fruit. The packaging didn't help. Why put a wrap on a screwcap, for God's sake? It was really chilled down, so I let it sit in the glass for just a bit while I started dinner. Its tiny bubbles and lightly sparkling texture was evident. Frizzante on the label was, lets face it, a bit alarming when I saw it in the store, conjuring up horrible memories of nasty spumante. But spumante is BIG bubbles while frizzante is technically "semi-sparkling" and, more to the point, small bubbles.

I took a few sips while I was getting another Jamie Oliver roasted fennel dish ready to pop in the oven and marinating the lemon-thyme chicken. It was very pale in the glass, and the aromas were subtle and appley. The flavors were stronger apple, with a hint of lemon blossom (more an impression than a strong citrusy flavor, which you get with most pinot grigio). It was perfectly easy (too easy?) to drink without food. With food, it was even better, holding up well to the salty olives and anise flavors of the fennel, and to the herbs and lemon on the chicken.

This wine is not sweet, and it is not "bubbly." It is very easy to drink, however. Buy a few bottles for the last picnic of the season, or to have at cocktails this weekend, or even to sip while the kids carve pumpkins for Halloween.

12 comments:

Brooklynguy said...

Sounds like a great deal - I will keep an eye open. By the way, where do you ge the great pictures of the other bottles ou review? I can't yet take a good digital photo of a wine bottle without the flash screwing up the lighting...

Lisa Pavageau said...

Sounds Great! I'll have to find some in the Bay Area.

drdebs said...

Great, Lisa. Let me know what you think after you try it out!

Anonymous said...

I love this wine, saved the label as I couldn't remember where I bought it! Thanks for pointing me back to Trader Joe's, will have to go hunt down a case or two. Too bad you let the secret out though, hope they still have it :-)

Dr. Debs said...

Glad to help. There seems to be a lot of this wine around. Even if it disappears from your TJ shelves temporarily, it comes back quickly. And if it's on the bottom shelf like at my store sometimes getting on your hands and knees shows you that there are lots of bottles down there pushed to the back. Happy hunting!

Anonymous said...

The empty bottle sits to my left - and I think it was the tiny bubbles that urged me to find your blog on Google! Your comment that is is 'fun to drink' was absolutely on target - and this coming from a red wine only kind of gal. We are regular TJ wine buyers and appreciate discovering new wines - I'm headed back there tomorrow to stock up and will include this in the mix!

Dr. Debs said...

I'm so glad that you liked the wine--and isn't it nice to find something that's just plain FUN?

Anonymous said...

I received the Contadino frizzante as a gift and had never tasted anything like it before. Thank you for directing me back to Trader Joe's, my favorite wine store!

carolynsd said...

Have been loving this wine for several seasons now. I'm not usually a pinot grigio fan, but this one has a heavy dose of minerality to balance the fruit, and with that frizzante, it is one of the most food friendly and refreshing whites around, not to mention the price!

dewatobay said...

I LOVE this wine. Here in Washington State it is $4.99 per bottle. Just bought the last case at my Trader Joe's.

CDS said...

I love Pinot Grigios with their light grapefruit,citrus, and green apple appeal, and this Contadino has it all, I LOVE it!! The tiny bubbles make it even more special, and it has an elegant color. What a bargain!!

LCaverson said...

I have called everyone in town (in Wichita) and no one has heard of it, and doubts that they can get it into their store. What a bummer, I was really looking forward to trying it.