Much of the Pinot Grigio being made in Australia at the time was being made simply; it was bright and fresh, but not very interesting. With family ties to the northern Italy, where Pinot Grigio is celebrated, Joel saw an opportunity to make a wine that people could get excited about. He wanted to emulate the vibrancy and crispness of sauvignon blanc in refreshing, food-friendly Pinot Grigio.
Joel’s eyes twinkle as he describes his “jigsaw” approach to Pinot Grigio. It starts in the vineyards, with grapes sourced from eight parcels, in the cooler areas of the King Valley. The Pizzini family have strong relationships with local growers, allowing them to select fruit with desirable characteristics, in addition to the grapes grown in their own vineyards. Each parcel contributes different flavours, adding complexity to the blend, whilst celebrating the unique conditions of the vintage. Over a period of three weeks the parcels are picked separately. Picking times are determined by flavour and vary according to the microclimate of the vineyards. This approach allows for increasing levels of ripeness which correlates to expression of a range of flavours.
The first portion is picked early with crunchy granny smith apple flavours and high acidity. This is fermented using wild yeast from the vineyard to develop complexity. Regular stirring of the yeast following fermentation helps build up a mealy, ripe pear texture in the wine. The result has crisp, clean acidity with a lot of texture and just a hint of funk to sit in the background of the final blend.
The second portion has a little more ripeness, providing flavours of lemon zest and green pear. The acidity is a touch softer, the body of the wine a little richer.
The extra ripeness of the third pick adds delicate white blossom aromas. The pear flavours are juicy and a touch sweeter, like a beurre bosc pear, and there’s a hint of white peaches.
With all the elements ready, the real fun begins. It is a challenging, creative and strategic process to marry together the different styles of each parcel and create the final wine. It needs to reflect the vintage and the fruit quality whilst still representing the Pizzini style – enjoyable, easily paired with food; wine to share with family and friends. For those keen to explore what else this grape is capable of, the Attento Pinot Grigio is a more complex style, suited to cellaring.