Pinot Grigio does not have the best of reputations. Bland? Uninteresting? For a lot of wine drinkers, that is prevailing opinion. The wine makers at Attems, one of the oldest vineyards in the Friuli region of Italy, want to change that perception. Their 2013 vintage should help. Attems also wants to introduce you to Pinot Grigio Ramato? Not familiar? Neither was I. Now I am a fan.
I had a chance to taste the Attems 2013 vintage Pinot Grigio and Pinot Grigio Ramato at "7 Pastas and 7 Wines", a tasting and pairing event at Giovanni Rana Pasta Kitchen in the Chelsea Market. They made a compelling case. Attems Pinot Grigio vines are older growth, some of them up to fifty years old. The roots of these vines grow deep into the rocky soil. This adds a welcome depth and mineral character to their wines. 2013 in particular was an excellent year in Friuli. The weather conditions were optimal for a natural low yield that resulted in a small quantity of high quality grapes. The result for Attems is a Pinto Grigio that is floral with notes of fruit, a dry crispness and a mineral finish. It will quickly push your memories of bland Pinot Grigio to the side.
The 2013 Attems Pinot Ramato was a welcome surprise. Ramato was new to me, but is in fact the old, traditional way of making Pinot Grigio. “Ramato” means “coppery”, and refers to the color of the wine. To make a Ramato, the must remains in contact with the skins of the grapes for eight to twelve hours. This not only changes the color of the wine but the character as well.
The grapes for the Attems Ramato come from the same vineyard as their classic Pinot Grigio but the character of the Ramato is much different. The contact with the skins reduces the sweetness and floral notes of the classic Pinot Grigio and adds complexity and character while ratcheting up the minerality. It is very drinkable but it will also make you stop and take note of what you are drinking.
There are plenty of Pinot Grigios out there that live up to their reputation. It is worth seeking out examples that lead to the popularity of Pinot Grigio in the first place. Attems 2013 Pinot Grigio is a good place to start. As for the 2013 Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato, this old style of wine making may be the start of something new. Rose fans take note.