I have always been fascinated by Northern Italy. The region nestled into the Alps and the Dolomites seems an enchanting region with mountains towering over the vineyards and rivers bringing the snowmelt into the lower regions.
Last Fall we had the opportunity to attend an online event with Albino Armani, the namesake of the Albino Armani Viticoltori dal 1607. We received 4 sample wines, all Pinot Grigio from various parts of the Delle Venezie to taste and compare. This wonderful event was presented by Susannah Gold of Avvinare and Vigneto Communications.
These wines were received as media samples. No other compensation was received. All opinions are our own.
First, let’s speak a little about Pinot Grigio.
You have heard of Pinot Grigio, for many it is a go to white Italian wine. I have a friend who used to only drink Pinot Grigio. This is also the same grape as Pinot Gris, which you may have tasted from France, in the Alsace region or from Oregon where it is a popular variety today. This grape also goes by the name Grauburgunder in Germany, and you will find it grown across the globe with multiple names.
Pinot Grigio is related to both Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Pinot Noir is a red grape, Pinot Blanc a white grape and Pinot Grigio…? Well “Grigio”, “Gris”, “Grau”, they all mean grey. This grape ripens to a grey, rose, copper color. This is a tough grape to cultivate, needing the perfect terroir to produce good fruit.
The Triveneto is the home to Pinot Grigio. This region covers Trento-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto all located in the North East corner of Italy. The region is influenced by the Pre-Alps and the Adriatic Sea.
The Armani family has 400 years of uninterrupted history in the vineyard, always as farmers. Albino was born in Trentino on vineyards and land that the family had worked for 250 years. Over the last 50-60 years, he and his father, expanded into Veneto and Fruili.
Albino Armani, in addition to running the winery, is also the President of the Consorzio Delle Venezie, which in the past few years has taken decisive steps to elevate this region and its wines. (You can read more about that in Delle Venezie DOC – so much more than the Pinot Grigio you remember, and Delle Venezie DOC – Italian Pinot Grigio raising the bar).
Albino and Egle are the 16th generation and farm 750 acres in 3 regions. First and foremost they are bound by their respect for the territory, for the land that makes these grapes unique and special.
Albino speaks of the soils of the region as a mosaic. These different soils allow them to create wines that allow you to experience the specific place.
The winery is proudly sustainable. You will find the certification label on each of their Pinot Grigios. They work to be energy and water-efficient and produce their own yeasts. Over the past 6 years, they have decreased their energy consumption in their cellar by 40% and their water consumption by 70%. They now have over 300 hectares of certified sustainable vines.
We receive 4 Pinot Grigios as samples to taste from Albino Armani, from 4 separate DOCs.
The Delle Venezie DOC Pinot Grigio 2020 which is a blend of all the regions coming from the overarching Delle Venezie DOC, the Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2020, Corvara 2020 Pinot Grigio Valdadige DOC and the Colle Ara Pinot Grigio Valdadige Terra dei forti DOC
Albino Armani Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio 2020
The Delle Venezie Pinot Grigio 2020 is made from a blend of all the regions.
The Delle Venezie DOC is in the Triveneto area in the North-East part of Italy. This wine includes fruit from Veneto, Trentino, and Friuli. It does a long fermentation in Stainless Steel on its own lees. this lees contact gives a creaminess to the wine which cuts the bright acid, making it a pleasure to drink.
I found this wine to be subtle and delicious with Meyer lemon and zest on the nose, great minerality, and floral notes. In my mouth, it was ripe pear, a bit of subtly sweet white peach, and soft citrus. I remember thinking it reminded me of a micro plush blanket, softly wrapping you up. We paired it with smokey white bean burgers and green beans with lemon and lemon zest.
12.5% abv $11.99 SRP
The remaining wines I set aside to do a side by side tasting and pairing. These wines, all Pinot Grigio, had 3 distinct profiles, which show the range of Pinot Grigio.
Albino Armani Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave
The Friuli Grave DOC is in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region sitting just over the eastern border of the Veneto. Soils here are calcareous white river stones brought down by alpine brooks. Locally they call the gravel soil “claps”. The vineyards in the Magredi highlands are near the alps and have high diurnal shifts (differences in day and night time temperatures). The grapes are intensely aromatic.
In this white stone soil, they allow the vines to each produce just a few bunches, keeping the intensity in the fruit.
As to the Winemaking style? This wine is fermented and matured in Stainless steel. It stays in contact with the yeast until bottling when it is filtered. You will notice that this is bottled in a Burgundian style bottle and in brown glass to protect the wine from light.
Notes of Slate or rocks hit my nose first, bringing to mind the “claps”. There were white flowers, lime zest, pith, and a touch of something like lanolin.
Great acid but with a rounded edge and a soft silkiness. In my mouth, it was all Meyer lemon.
12.5% Abv $12.99 SRP
Albino Armani Corvara 2020 Pinot Grigio Valdadige DOC
Valdadige is a valley in a gorge between Monte Baldo and the Lessina Mountains in the Western part of the Veneto. Limestone soils and strong winds influence the grapes here, with the limestone cliffs reflecting sunlight down onto the Vineyard. The southern part of this region is known as Vallagarina.
This is a single vineyard wine coming from the southern part of the Valdadige, which has constant winds and intense temperature fluctuations. The name Corvara is the name of a 14th century fortress that is nearby. The Adige River runs next to the vineyard.
This wine does a long fermentation in Stainless steel and again ages on the lees (yeast) until bottling.
Pear, peach and stone fruit jumped out of the glass with this wine. There was a slight note of bruised apple and highlights of mint. This had a richer rounder mouthfeel than the Friuli Grave.
This wine is juicy with more acid on the palate, notes of unripe white peach and tart apple.
12.5% abv $14.99 SRP
Albino Armani Colle Ara Valdadige Terra Dei Forti DOC
Colle Ara is a special vineyard, thought to be a sacred place by the ancient Romans who built an altar here 2000 years ago here. The vineyard has southwest exposure and the grapes are grown on ancient terraces. The hill that the vineyard is on sits opposite the Corvana vineyard and absorbs the warm afternoon sun.
This wine is macerated on its skin, which allows it to absorb the color of the skin giving this wine a rosy golden color which in Italy is known as “Ramato”. To get this perfect color they harvest carefully by hand, pulling no grapes that are not healthy. This is the historical color of Pinot Grigio from the region.
The nose on this wine was filled with pineapple, stone fruit, and dried apricot, with a dusty note in the background adding texture. It had wonderful acid to pair with the food but retained a softness on the palate, that was wide and mouth-filling.
12.5% abv $21.99 SRP
As we were doing a side-by-side with three of these wines, I wanted a variety of dishes to pair.
We began with a cheese and charcuterie board to taste with the wines with Gouda, mozzarella, dried apricot, Marcona Almonds, pear, smoked trout, capers, mustard, olives, arugula, grapefruit, pineapple, mango, and grilled eggplant.
Our dishes played on seafood which Pinot Grigio is notably paired with. We created a grilled calamari salad inspired by a Food & Wine recipe by Melissa
This salad has butter beans, lightly blanched celery, parmesan, red onion, and pickled red peppers in a pesto of parsley and celery leaves, topped with the grilled calamari
We also did a crab salad in a yogurt dressing with cucumber, grapefruit, and mukimame inspired by a Food & Wine Recipe from Sandro Gamba
Lastly, I made seared scallops over zucchini noodles topped with a mango, pineapple salsa.
My hope with our pairings was to find different elements that would pair perfectly with each of the wines.
Everything paired well, but there were some standout AHA! moments.
I found the Friuli Grave to be brilliant with my almond stuffed olives. Something in the floral quality of the wine and the olives paired heavenly. Michael liked the pineapple best with the Friuli Grave.
The Fruili & the Colle Ara also went well with the scallops with pineapple, mango salsa.
Also, our Calamari salad ended up a little spicy from the garlic and we found the Friuli tamed this nicely, but it perhaps paired best with the fruit in the Corvara.
We both found the stone ground mustard worked across the board (and Michael doesn’t like mustard!).
All in all, we enjoyed the pairings all around. The food? Everything was delicious, but in the future, I would use less garlic and less pesto in the Calamari Salad.
These wines were delicious and I felt grateful to have received the samples, but… these wines are all affordable (under $22 each) and are widely available! I found them at my local Total Wine. So…grab a bottle and try your own pairing!
For more information on the Delle Venezie visit https://dellevenezie.it/en/delle-venezie-doc/
For more information on Albino Armani visit https://www.albinoarmani.com/en/?v=cea9ee4cc3ce
While we discussed Pinot Grigio in our webinar with Albino, he mentioned his passion for indigenous grapes varieties. There are hundreds of indigenous Italian grape varieties that add such richness to Italian viticulture. Within these varieties which were naturally created, you find biodiversity and resistance, more so than with many created clones. These varieties are good for the health of the vineyard.
So there is much more to explore with Albino Armani!
Another great introduction Robin. Northern Italy is definitely calling us for a future AdVINEture!
I would so love to visit this region! So many places to visit!