As pal and fellow wine writer Jeff Seigel over at The Wine Curmudgeon says about Pinto Grigio, "It remains a cheap, simple white wine preferred by women of a certain age." If it weren't so lamentably true, it wouldn't be the butt of so many jokes in the wine critiquing business (which is the butt of its own share of jokes).
Pinot Grigio is like Chianti was in the 80's, which endured a deserved reputation as a $3 wine that tasted like a $3 wine. They are also alike in that the vast majority of Pinot Grigio being sold in the US today is utter crap. Another similarity: some die hard champions of the variety are trying to shout above the din of millions of cases of $8 PG being sold monthly to preach what's possible. We have our share here in the US, but there are also some in Italy, too. Case in point is the example below.
Quick trivial point: Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape. Think there's a reason for the distinction? You bet. California and Oregon winemakers promoting their bottlings thereof want as much differentiation as they can get. (Here's a hint for them: try calling it something different, like Ruländer, as it was known in Germany in the 1700's.)
2011 Mazzoni Pinot Grigio Montalcino (Sample) $15
Not to be mistaken with the Mazzoni family of Mazzoni Home Ranch fame, this collaboration between the Franceschi family in Montalcino and the Terlato Family in Chicago brims with full, rounded edges, bright fruit with even a bit of grip. There's a refreshing, playful bit of effervescence on opening, too. All in all very accessible winner, and a full dimension more than the oceans of insipid plonk that passes for PG these days. Very enjoyable.
PS- Another tip of the hat to the Wine Curmudgeon who, in raising the question of the value of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio (another Terlato product) points readers to The Gray Report's terrific piece on overvalued wines.