Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Valter Scarbolo Pinot Grigio

When you think about pinot grigio, you might think of water and lemon. You might think of a wine that does not really express anything. But pinot grigio made well can have real character – aromas of fresh apple, minerality, balance and aging potential. My tasting of the Valter Scarbolo pinot grigios from Friuli, Italy are beautifully expressive wines. As Lara Scarbolo explained, “pinot grigio is the wine of our heart.” And that is why it is the Please The Palate “pick of the week.”

Scarbolo is located in Friuli in the Northwest of Italy, a region is bordered by Austria and Slovenia. Friuli is the door to the Balkans and influenced by the Alps, hills, flats, beach and Adriatic sea. All of these influences contribute to the complexity of the area that consists of sand, clay and stone soils. The winters are cold, with eastern wines from the Balkans and marine breezes from the Adriatic. The Alps, like big shoulders, protect the region from the northern winds. The summers are warm with diurnal shifts that give the grapes good acidity. Being located at the same parallel as Bordeaux, although the area is known for white wines, they also produce red wines.

Scarbolo is located in Udine in the heart of Friuli. They have 26 hectares planted to primarily white wine grapes, especially pinot grigio. Scarbolo farms organically as they respect nature. “It is a gift we have to work with. Nature is something bigger than us. It gives us alot to speak about and the wine are the ambassadors of our terroir,” expressed Lara Scarbolo.

Lara is the 23 year old daughter of Valter Scarbolo who started the winery in 1986. He did not pressure either of his two children to follow in his footsteps. His son, Lara’s older brother, lives in New York and works in finance. But Lara, who says she is similar to her father, grew up in the vineyards and has always loved it. It was during her last year of high school that she decided to study wine and three weeks ago she graduated from university where she studied winemaking. “Making wine requires so much. It is a year round effort and you must have passion for it. It is not just a job, it is my life,” explained Lara. 2017 will be her first official vintage working with her father and making Scarbolo wines.

During Lara’s first visit to Los Angeles as a representative of Scarbolo wines this past week, I tasted the following wines:

Valter Scarbolo Pinot Grigio 2015: Made in stainless steel, the wine has fruity aromas of green apple, citrus, honey and minerality. On the palate, there is delicate acidity and salinity on the finish.

Valter Scarbolo Pinot Grigio Ramato XL 2014: Ramato, which means “auburn” in Italian, means that this is an orange wine. The grapes come from the oldest vineyard on their site. The juice spends seven days in contact with the grape skins, which impart the color. The wine is aged in both stainless steel and big oak barrels. 2014 was a challenging year with a cloudy, rainy summer. The resulting wine is a light orange color, similar to that of the skin of an onion. It has aromas of apple, flowers and ripe peach and the elegant acidity sits on the tongue.

Valter Scarbolo Pinot Grigio Ramato XL 2013: Compared to 2014, 2013 was a year with sun, heat and wind, resulting in a darker color wine. This wine has aromas of red fruit, such as strawberries, and minerality. There is chalkiness on the back palate and soft tannins. This is a wine that would be delicious with grilled fish.