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.