Traveling the world in their signature plaid shirts and carrying pruning tools, childhood friends and agronomists Pierpaolo Sirch and Marco Simonit are restoring health and vitality to vineyards with their innovative techniques.
Poor Pinot Grigio - the Italian white wine that everybody loves to hate. But stop shedding tears in your insipid mass-produced glass of wine - Pinot Grigio is poised to experience a glorious comeback thanks to a unique partnership between Terlato Vineyards and Italian vine pruners extraordinaire - Simonit & Sirch.
Terlato started a sensation when they introduced Pinot Grigio to the U.S. market in 1979. The varietal became such a runaway success that quality suffered as demand grew to satisfy the never-ending thirst of consumers. The market has become increasingly flooded with industrial and bland Pinot Grigio that exploits the popularity of the wine. Realizing that they had created a monster, Terlato said basta and decided to produce Pinot Grigio in a radically new way.
"We want Pinot Grigio to be done at a higher level. We want a 'Grand Cru' Pinot Grigio."
- Bill Terlato, CEO, Terlato Wines
image from left to right- Tony Terlato, Marco Simonit, Bill Terlato, and Pierpaolo Sirch.
To make better wine, you need better grapes. To grow better grapes, you need healthy vines. And if you want healthy vines, Terlato knew to call Marco Simonit and Pierpaolo Sirch. Natives of Friuli and born into families of farmers and winemakers, Marco and Pierpaolo have earned accolades around the world for their innovative pruning techniques that respect the sap flow of the plant and improve its life expectancy. Pruning is a necessity in the vineyard but the widely used methods often traumatize the vines. Many may scratch their heads with they see the Simonit & Sirch team working the vineyards clad in plaid shirts and wielding mini chainsaws, but skeptics become fans when they witness the extraordinary results that the pruners achieve. The Simonit & Sirch Pruning Method has been utilized at some of the most famous vineyards in Italy and beyond, including French legends Château d'Yquem and Château Latour.
Working with Simonit & Sirch, Terlato is producing world-class Pinot Grigio and Friulano at their estate in northeast Italy in the Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, in the foothills of the Austrian and Slovenian Alps.
Hillside vineyards and low-yield old vines with an average age of 20-30 years are a key difference between Terlato Pinot Grigio and the mass-produced brands. Handcrafted from start to finish from smaller berries with more intense flavors, estate bottled Terlato Pinot Grigio has an incredible intensity and complexity that will stun anyone who has been drinking watery and flavorless wine. The first thing I noticed is how incredibly aromatic the Terlato Pinot Grigio is compared to others - the peach and floral notes are absolutely enticing. On the palate, it is rich and balanced with a minerality that provides structure to the fresh and vivacious flavors of white peach, green apple, and citrus. Very food-friendly, you can pair this Pinot Grigio with seafood, light pasta dishes, Asian cuisine, and roast chicken. Their collaboration also includes the 2014 vintage of the Pinot Grigio (more pronounced citrus & mineral notes than in the 2015 vintage) and the Terlato Friulano Friuli 2013 ($24) (creamy and full-bodied with pear and almond notes.)
The Terlato partnership with Simonit & Sirch is certain to inspire other winemakers to raise their standards because consumers will start demanding better Pinot Grigio. There are no shortcuts to quality. For those winemakers wanting to emulate Terlato's commitment to the health of their vines, the Simonit & Sirch Italian School of Vine Pruning offers training in their methods - plaid shirt not included!
To learn more about Terlato Pinot Grigio and Friulano, visit their website.