Another delicious installment in our examination of grapes beginning in “pinot.” Known as pinot gris in France and pinot grigio in Italy, the grape is a clonal variant of pinot noir (like last month’s pinot blanc). Its two principle styles are derived from either the Alsace region of France, which produces off dry and oily vintages with overtones of orchard fruit and exotic spices, or the Friuli region of Italy, which produces light and crisp wines with restrained citrus and mineral notes. Our homegrown examples can lilt in either direction or magically combine both styles; some are excellent cocktail wines also suited to simple seafood, while others complement spicy Asian dishes or soft cheeses.

2008 Two Lads Pinot Grigio $16

Straddling both sides of the gris/grigio fence, the lads coax honeyed peach, pear and floral aromas, pay tribute to the capacity for bright acidity and still retain some richness. (Note: ‘08 sold out; ‘09 to be released in spring.)

2008 Circa Estate Pinot Grigio $18

Light and bright, Circa’s pinot grigio emphasizes the grape’s fresh, citrusy soul.

2008 Chateau Fontaine Pinot Gris $14

Lively grapefruit and Granny Smith apple with racy acidity.

2008 Left Foot Charley Pinot Grigio $18

Brian Ulbrich calls the aromas distinctly white, showing blossoms, apples and pears, though the rich texture recalls its red origins.

2007 Peninsula Cellars Pinot Gris $14

More reminiscent of Alsace, this wine is off-dry with deep layers of stone fruit and spice.

Wine Tips, Tours and Travel in Traverse City, Old Mission and Leelanau