Story and food photos by Manos Angelakis
Bottle and vineyard shots courtesy of Albino Armani

Albino Armani Vigneyard Friuli

Pinot Grigio produces one of the most versatile Italian white wines; in my opinion it is the equivalent in whites to what Sangiovese is in reds.

Light and refreshing, Pinot Grigio is good with anything you might be in the mood for,  whether it is a summer salad, a fish or seafood dish, a pasta dish or a risotto.

Even though it has its beginnings in Burgundy and Alsace, it has been successfully cultivated in such diverse viticultural areas as Austria, Germany, New Zealand, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and a number of other countries. Pinot Grigio has found its “home” in Italy and specifically the northern regions of Friuli, the Veneto, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige and Emilia-Romagna. The grapes can vary from grey-blue to brownish pink in color and the resulting wine is light bodied with a zestful acidity; these wines tend to vary between a deep golden in color to straw yellow with light ash-grey hints.

Albino Armani Vineyard

Pinot Grigio wines from Friuli's heartland Collio, are stunningly fruity with a zesty and flowery scent while still retaining acidity and sometimes a certain saltiness at the finish that keeps them lively. The grape has been continuously planted in the region since the 14th century and the cool climate is responsible for its beauty. In Lombardy, Pinot Grigio is blended with the also widely planted Pinot Bianco to produce the region's best sparkling wines. In the Loire it is often called Malvoisie, as it is also called in Switzerland; the word is a synonym for many white grape varieties, though Pinot Gris is probably the most common. There it produces soft, fragrant white wines with more body than most. In the German-speaking world it is known as Grauburgunder and in certain regions is almost as widely planted as Riesling. A Pinot Grigio glass is the perfect companion to a casual summer dinner.

I recently received some bottles from Albino Armani, an exceptional producer of Pinot Grigio wines since 1607. Today, the Armani wineries are operated and managed by the 16th generation of the family and they own five estates, consisting of 330 hectares of vineyards.

Galicia Gambas al Ajillo

We tasted two of the wines with fish and seafood dishes that we cooked in our kitchen; shrimps al ajillo, sautéed scallops and seabass on a bed of smashed potatoes. I know the best way to taste a wine with food, is to pair it with dishes from the region the vines are planted, but I was craving some seafood and the best fish and seafood recipes that I have are from Galicia and Catalonia.

Galicia Seabass on Smashed Potatoes

The region where the grapes grow is known for a harsh climate and poor soil composed of stones and more than 80% gravel.

Pinot Grigio Armani Corvara

Albino Armani Friuli

The first bottle tasted was the 2020 Corvara, an elegant straw yellow extra dry wine, with lighter yellow-green highlights typical of Pinot Grigio. The aroma is intriguing, with notes of white flowers, lime, pear and herbal aromatics of mint and sage. In the mouth it is complex, fresh and persistent. It is single vineyard wine, perfectly balanced with a long and complex finish. It is very well priced for the quality represented in the bottle and I would presently rate it at 90/100 points; with some judicious cellaring it could easily reach 92/100 in a few years.

The second was a Pinot Grigio from Friuli; it is one of Italy’s better examples of a Pinot Grigio. Rather intense flavors of pear and apple with hints of toasted almonds and white peach. This wine has a crisp acidity and a smooth and pleasant finish. In my opinion, it is the perfect aperitif wine and very affordable in the under $15 range (depending in the retailer’s location). I would rate this wine at 88/100 points.

Both wines are celebrated for their intense characteristics and aromas and are known to age well.

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