Known by at least 105 different names around the world, Pinot Grigio refers to the wine made from the noble grape variety of the same name. Pinot Grigio is a light, crisp and usually dry wine that some wine aficionados say is bland and uninteresting. Still, when carefully crafted, Pino Grigio wines can be quite complex and compelling, and there are even a number of superior bottles that sell for less than $15.
Considered the birthplace of the Pinot Grigio varietal, Italy boasts a number of regions that consistently produce good-quality Pinot Grigios. Because the grape does well in cool climates, most of Italy’s best Pinot Grigios come from the Alto-Adige, Friuli and Veneto regions of the country. The Mezzacorona Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Tenuta Luisa and Tiefenbrunner wineries have all produced high rated Pinot Grigios in the late 2000s priced at under $15 — especially Tiefenbrunner’s 2007 vintage, which received a 90-point rating.
Like Italy, France is known internationally for the quality of its wines, and the country produces a number of notable Pinot Grigio wines. The French typically call this wine “Pinot Gris,” and the grape grows particularly well in the Alsace region of the country. While many Alsace Pinot Gris wines tend to run for more than $15, some wineries still sell this wine for around that price, depending on vintage and year. Some inexpensive but notable Alsace wineries to watch for include Trimbach and Domaine Shoffit, which are recommended by WineAccess.com.
The United States
Unquestionably the American champion of Pinot Grigio, California continues to produce some of the finest and most inexpensive Pinot Grigios in the world. Among these, Cavit and Fetzer have both produced Pinot Grigios in recent years that cost less than $15 and were quite flavorful and complex. Both made BestCovery.com’s “Best Pinot Grigio Under $15” in 2010. Luna Vineyards of Napa Valley is another California winery that produces a notable pinot grigio for less than $15, as recommended by Wine Access. Other parts of the United States have also been taking advantage of prime growing conditions for the Pinot Grigio grape. For example, Adelsheim Vineyards in Oregon produced a 2009 Pinot Grigio that cost around $15 and was rated at higher than 90 points by accredited wine publications.
A country that is fast gaining a name for itself in the wine world, New Zealand is famous for its cool climate, which makes it capable of producing very high-quality Pinot Grigio wines. New Zealand website WineSale.co.nz recommends Awatere River Vineyards, with a 2009 vintage Pinot Gris that won a silver medal at the London International Wine Challenge and is priced at just under $16. Other notable and inexpensive Pinot Grigios recommended on the website include those made from the New Zealand wineries of Hop Kiln and Mebus Estate.
References and ResourcesFood & Wine: World's Best Pinot Gris & Pinot Grigio; Ray Isle
Cal-Italia.org: Pinot Grigio
bestcovery.com: Best Pinot Grigion Under $15
Wine Access: Pinot Grigio/Gris Wine Reviews and Prices
Wine.com: 90+ Rated Wines Under $20
Winesale.co.nz: Best Pinot Gris New Zealand