The best wines from The Global Pinot Grigio Masters

We bring you the best wines from The Global Pinot Grigio Masters 2020, taking in brilliant bottles from around the world, including Italy and France, as well as England, California, Oregon, Canada and New Zealand.

It’s said that popularity, like familiarity, breeds contempt, and what’s true of people, is also, it seems, applicable to Pinot Grigio. This variety, when used to produce delicate whites at low prices, has become so prevalent, it is often derided – that is, among wine drinkers with a snobbish side.

However, one should consider what it is about Pinot Grigio, or rather, Pinot Gris – it is a French grape after all – that made it so popular in the first place.

Well, its rise to become one of the world’s best-selling white grapes, alongside Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, relates to its lighter side as a fresh, apple-scented white from the northern Italian area of the Veneto – now successfully rebranded as Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC. Grown in this part of Europe, the grape carved out a market, particularly in the UK, for clean, vinous refreshment at a keen price, and at a time when the competition at this level may have been flabby, oxidative, or off-dry. And the same style of bright, fresh Pinot Grigio is popular today, despite its critics, who tend to mock the wines for being dull and dilute – a fair accusation only for the cheapest expressions from over-cropped vineyards; wines that wouldn’t pass the new DOC taste tests.

The vast majority of Pinot Grigio from around the Veneto, however, is a delight, loaded with ripe orchard fruits and lemon zest, with notes of cream and bitter almond too.

But this is just one face of Pinot Grigio, and therein lies its appeal. It can take on many forms, from light pink, or ‘gris’, to sparkling, bone dry to richly sweet.

Plus, it performs well in a wide variety of climes and soils – with our top scorers this year hailing from Italy and France as one might expect, but also England, California, Oregon, Canada and New Zealand.

Among the still dry wines, while Pinot Grigio flavour profiles can range from crisp apple and lemon to richer notes of pear and peach, it’s really the texture of the wine that tends to vary the most. This is a grape that can, if harvested late from low yielding vineyards, produce wines with a marked and satisfying oiliness, even without residual sugar.

Then there’s its affinity for ageing in wood, with nutty characters complementing the variety’s yellow fruit notes, and honeyed characters from oxidative handling in barriques balancing the grape’s citric edge.

In essence, you’d be wrong to knock Pinot Grigio, as it comes in many styles, and quality levels, from fine barrel-aged whites to fresh, delicate drops.

As for where to go for the best examples, well, look to our medalists in the following tables – with reliably good Pinot Grigio producers including Frescobaldi (Attems), Castello di Roncade, Mission Hill Estate, La Roncaia and Marisco (The King’s Thorn).

One final point, and that concerns a loose guide to the type of Pinot Grigio you can expect. Generally, those wines labelled Pinot Gris tend to be richer and more viscous in style. The areas where that character is favoured tend to be Alsace and Marlborough.

So, if you like your whites with weight, look to these parts of the wine world. But if it’s something light you’re after, then Italy is an ideal source, if not the only place for such a bright type of white, as the results from the competition show.

Please read on for the results in full from 2020’s Global Pinot Grigio Masters, along with some comments from the judges, and further information about the competition.

Sparkling White Pinot Gris

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Cantina Viticoltori Ponte Spumante DOC Brut delle Venezie Veneto Italy NV Silver
La Cantina Pizzolato Sparkling DOC delle Venezie Extra Dry Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
La Cantina Pizzolato Sparkling DOC delle Venezie Extra Brut “So Easy” Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
£30-£50
Fox & Fox Inspiration Brut Blanc de Gris Sussex UK 2014 Gold

Sparkling Rosé Pinot Gris

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
£15-£20
Think Wine Group Think Pink Veneto Italy NV Bronze

Unoaked Pinot Gris 

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Castello di Roncade Pinot Grigio DOC Venezia Veneto Italy 2019 Gold
Bestheim Pinot Gris Premium Reserve Alsace France 2019 Gold
Citra Vini Farinelli Pinot Grigio Abruzzo Italy 2019 Silver
Poderi dal Nespoli Il Papavero Pinot Grigio Sicily Italy 2019 Silver
Perlage Winery Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Cantina Viticoltori Ponte Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Bosco Viticultori Bosco dei Cirmioli Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Ca’ di Rajo Pinot Grigio Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Antonio Facchin e Figli Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Enoitalia Ca’ Mandato Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC Trentino Italy 2018 Silver
Casa Vinicola Sartori Pinot Grigio Friuli Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Silver
Casa Vinicola Sartori Pinot Grigio delle Venezie “Villa Mura” Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Fossa Mala Pinot Grigio Friuli Italy 2019 Silver
Aldi Ireland Freeman’s Bay New Zealand Pinot Gris Gisborne Italy 2019 Silver
Cecilia Beretta “Grigio Luna” Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Ca’Duso Motolo – tRe Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Cavit Mastri Vernacoli Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Silver
Aldi Ireland Castellore Pinot Grigio Sauvignon Sicily Italy 2019 Silver
Qualia Wines Barramundi Pinot Grigio SE Australia Australia 2018 Bronze
te Pā Family Vineyards Pa Road Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Bronze
Kris Winery Kris Pinot Grigio DOC delle Venezie Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Bronze
Vigna Dogarina Pinot Grigio DOC Venezia Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Concilio Pinot Grigio Sentiero dei Pini Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Bronze
Concilio Pinot Grigio delle Venezie Il Pino Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Enoitalia Pendium Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Casa Vinicola Sartori Arco dei Giovi Pinot Grigio delle Venezie Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Casa Girelli Canaletto Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Veneto Italy 2020 Bronze
Antonutti Pinot Grigio DOC Friuli Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Bronze
Cielo e Terra Bericanto Pinot Grigio DOC Vicenza Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Perlage Winery Terra Viva Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Cantine di Ora Il Casato – Pinot Grigio Valdadige DOC Valdadige Italy 2019 Bronze
Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine Pasqua Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Cavit Terrazze della Luna Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Bronze
Santa Helena Santa Helena Varietal Central Valley Chile 2020 Bronze
Aldi Ireland Castellore Pinot Grigio Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
Aldi Ireland Castellore Organico Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane IGT Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
£10-£15
Mission Hill Estate Winery Estate Series Pinot Gris Okanagan Valley Canada 2019 Gold
Trinchero Family Estates SeaGlass Pinot Grigio Santa Barbara County USA 2018 Gold
Wakefield/Taylors Wines Wakefield Taylors Pinot Gris Clare Valley Australia 2019 Silver
Castelfeder Winery Pinot Grigio 15 Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Silver
Marisco Vineyards The Ned Pinot Grigio Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Silver
Marisco Vineyards Leefield Station Pinot Gris Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Silver
Trinchero Family Estates Three Thieves Pinot Grigio California USA 2018 Silver
Cavit Bottega Vinai Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC Trentino Italy 2019 Silver
te Pa Family Vineyards Montford Pinot Gris Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Silver
te Pa Family Vineyards te Pa Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Silver
Yealands Wine Group Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Gris Auckland New Zealand 2018 Bronze
te Pa Family Vineyards Pa Road Pinot Gris Marlborough New Zealand 2020 Bronze
Attems Attems Pinot Grigio Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Bronze
Cantine di Ora/Kellerei Auer Pinot Grigio DOC Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Bronze
£15-£20
Trinchero Family Estates Joel Gott Oregon Pinot Gris Oregon USA 2018 Gold
The Lane Vineyard The Lane Pinot Gris Adelaide Hills Australia 2020 Silver
Cavit Ruendis Pinot Grigio Trentino Superiore DOC Trentino Italy 2018 Silver
Colle Duga Collio Pinot Grigio Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy 2018 Silver
Cabert – Cantina di Bertiolo Pinot Grigio DOC Friuli Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Silver
Banfi San Angelo Toscana Italy 2019 Bronze
Stopham Vineyard Winery Stopham Pinot Gris West Sussex UK 2018 Bronze
Masottina Ai Palazzi Dorsoduro DOC delle Venezie Veneto Italy 2018 Bronze
£20-£30
Mission Hill Estate Winery Reserve Pinot Gris Okanagan Valley Canada 2019 Master
Giusti Wine Pinot Grigio Longheri Veneto Italy 2019 Silver
Cantina Valle Isarco Pinot Grigio Aristos Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Silver

Oaked Pinot Gris

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
£10-£15
Marisco Vineyards The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Gold
te Pa Family Vineyards te Pa Pinot Gris Marlborough New Zealand 2019 Silver
£15-£20
Nals Margreid Punggl Pinot Grigio Bolzano Italy 2019 Silver
£20-£30
La Roncaia La Roncaia Pinot Grigio Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Master
La Roncaia La Roncaia Pinot Grigio Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2018 Master
Masottina Ai Palazzi Pinot Grigio Single Vineyard DOC Venezia Veneto Italy 2017 Silver

Rosé Pinot Gris

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under £10
Albino Armani Colle Ara Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Silver
Cavit Pinot Grigio Rosato IGT Vigneti delle
Dolomiti Terrazze della Luna
Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2019 Silver
di Lenardo Gossip Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Bronze
Concilio Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC Il Pino Veneto Italy 2019 Bronze
£10-£15
Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2019 Silver

Judge’s comment: David Round MW

Pinot Grigio is a grape with a reputation for uniformity and inoffensiveness that makes it commercially extremely appealing while failing to excite a feeling of anticipation. This tasting showed in sharp relief the variability of this variety, according not only to climate, but also specific location.
This broad range of styles was evident even in the under £10 category, which revealed Pinot Grigio to be a chameleon of a grape. Sometimes it had a combination of green apple and high acidity reminiscent of Loire Chenin Blanc, while we saw examples with a gooseberry and grassy character that were a dead ringer for Sauvignon Blanc (Mission Hill, Canada). We even saw a lychee character that pointed more towards Gewurztraminer (Yealand, New Zealand and Three Thieves, California).
Winemaking also plays its part. There were lots of wines with a slightly reductive, struck match, hydrogen sulphide character that is clearly deliberate and quite appealing when well-judged. This seems to be common among New Zealand examples (three Te Pa wines from Marlborough), but also Californian (Seaglass) and only really appears above £10.
Below that price level, the most successful examples were showed clean, unadulterated flavours of apple, pear, peach, apricot and gooseberry, often with an added herbal component in the form of fennel or coriander, and the riper examples extended to lychee and guava. Typically the wines had good balancing acidity. The standard was high.
The oaked wines that we saw were pretty much universally successful, showing good integration and harmony.

Judge’s comment: Patricia Stefanowicz MW

A delightful judging day with plenty of interest and surprises! The global selection contained so many delicious wines with the best having purity, juicy fruit flavours and balance. When oak was used, the wood seemed to integrate rather than dominate.

As expected, northern Italy dominated the inexpensive unoaked Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. The best showed lovely custard or peach and passionfruit flavours and balanced acidity with accents of rose petal, white flowers or orange and lemon zest. These Under £10 wines seemed best when dry or nearly dry with relatively low alcohol and sufficient acidity. Easy-drinking, crowd-pleasing wines. There were some lovely Pinot Grigio DOC wines from the Veneto and a couple of exciting Pinot Gris-styles from Alsace and Alto Adige. At £10-15 there were expressive wines from New and Old World regions and a few excellent examples of pure Pinot Gris from Friuli in the far northeastern reaches of Italy, Okanagan in Canada and Santa Barbara in California. Excellent value-for money exists in this price bracket.

Above £15 the wines performed consistently well with many of the wines receiving Silvers at least. At the stratospheric end (for Pinot Gris) was a stunningly good example from Okanagan, which deserves a place on the table as an alternative to unoaked Chardonnay.

The, admittedly few, oaked white Pinot Gris were quite high-priced (£15 and upwards for the most part) and all deserving of silvers, golds and even a Master. These wines had beautifully-judged use of creamy oak supporting the lovely aromas and fleshy flavours of the variety.

The rosé Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, albeit not a large group, were actually quite nice and relatively inexpensive, under £15. This appears to be growing category and probably with justification for easy-drinking styles, perfumed and juicy without too much sweetness.

Sparkling white Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio at Under £10 appears to be a valid alternative to Prosecco and the wines, with perhaps a little more citrus character and length of finish. One absolute ‘cracker’ was the (almost) outrageously expensive English Sparkling Pinot Gris, with balance, length, intensity and depth of flavour, worth every tuppence it costs.

A final comment: Some excellent wines and some excellent value. In comparison with previous years of The Global Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Masters, I found much better consistency in every price bracket with not a single wine I would not drink a glass of.

About the competition

With high-quality judges and a unique sampling process, The Global Pinot Grigio Masters provides a chance for your wines to star, whether they hail from the great vineyards of Europe or lesser-known winemaking areas of the world. The 2020 competition was judged by David Round MW, Patrick Schmitt MW and Patricia Stefanowicz MW in December at London’s 28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen.

The top wines were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding in their field received the ultimate accolade – the title of Pinot Grigio Master.

Here, we feature the medal winners only.

Please visit The Global Masters website for more information, or, to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please call: +44 (0) 20 7803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at: sophie@thedrinksbusiness.com