By Rick Riozza

With apologies to the late Gabriel García Márquez, you readers knew I wouldn’t be able to resist that title—even in a wine column.

No one is making light of our circumstances, surely; but everyone loves a good story, and I have a very good love story to tell of, and, recommend.  And actually—that is the name of the wine I’m reviewing: Love Story Pinot Grigio by Sartori Wines of Verona.

Many of you folks know I haven’t been a big Pinot Grigio [gree-joe] fan. Generally I’ll love a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for its light-bodied cleansing citrus flavors; or, a dry Riesling for that shock of sweet & acidity with an aromatic sweep; or—on a good day, even a non-oaked Chardonnay with its refreshing fruit notes.  But I will have to concede, as a desert dweller, I’m having more pinot grige than ever before.  And just look outside with the 100+ temperatures: summer is here—as always—a month early.


And so it is that the soft, often subtle, flavors of Pinot Grigio is fast taking over the desires of our desert dwellers.  The pinot grige craze is an interesting one.  As your friendly neighborhood wine steward at Ralphs Palm Springs, I witness a lot of ladies lovingly looking over a lot of grigio on the shelves.  And a lot of their comments are contra to the usual vino cravings: the ladies love the lack of strong fruit flavors!  They simply want nice easy wine to relax with.

Of course, Pinot Grigio fits that bill with light notes of lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine and apple. And depending on where the grapes are grown, the wine can take on faint honeyed notes, floral aromas like acacia & honeysuckle; and there’s the saline-like minerality.  And don’t forget that touch of Italian herb—or almond that barely flirt about.

Founded in 1898 by Pietro Sartori, Sartori di Verona is one of the Veneto’s major wine producers which have grown tremendously under great-grand son’s Andrea Sartori’s leadership. Andrea also has served an unprecedented two terms as president of the Unione Italiana Vini. Italy’s principal wine producers’ trade group, aka, heavy hitters!

Love Story Pinot Grigio, ($12) produced by Sartori—well, we’re going to sing that’s Amore! Certo!—I’m caving in on the grigio craze.  It’s a delicious light white wine that’s incredibly crisp but juicy, showing notes of fresh melon and citrus, clean minerality, and a loving touch of almond that finishes with a long-lasting kiss.

That Love Story taste profile is impressive and will continue to bring on vino enthusiasts.  My particular reason for loving this wine is that it’s from the city of Verona.  You readers will recall my falling head-over-heels with this northern Italian City of Love a couple of years ago.

(Since CV Weekly publishes on-line—here are the links to my recent articles:

And for you lovers of all things Italian, I recommend you go onto Sartori’s website at to check out a quick 360 degree look at Verona’s famous Piazza, Arena, and Romeo & Guilietta’s surrounds.

Sipping on this Veronese Love Story simply puts me back to the time at the trattoria, nearby Ponte Castelvecchio, enjoying pizza and Pinot Grigio.  Ahhhh . . .Bella Verona!

Back here in town, our markets’ wine shelves are stocked with both Italian and American Pinot Grigio.  Most vino lovers can surely tell the difference between the two.

Big popular American wine companies can pump out a lot of mass-produced stuff that can get lost in translation—if you will.  But hey!—drink what you like; and throngs of customers do buy up the Barefoot and Beringer by the buckets!

(Paolo Max of turned me on to Gallo’s Pinot Grigio—which is a decent quaff that tastes even better at only three dollars a bottle!)

By the way—I’ve always loved the Ahnfeldt-Carducci Pinot Grigio from Carneros.  Besides the beautifully designed Carducci Label—the wine is delish!  If any of you readers have a bottle, feel free to call me over—I’ll be happy to share it with you!

The Italian grigio generally sells for around seven to seventeen dollars a bottle.  And that range is very reasonable considering the vineyards are in Italy, the wine making and bottling is Italian and they ship the stuff over seven thousand miles!

Besides a Love Story, another authentic Pinot Grigio I like is Antinori’s Santa Christina, ($10) which owns delicate aromas and flavors of pineapple, green apples, and lemon peel. Recently I was nursing a hang-over and had the “universal hang-over cure”—that spicy Mexican Menudo (soup), served with fresh chopped cilantro, white onions & dried oregano.  The chilled Santa Christina paired perfectly with the soup—who knew!

Other Italian pinot grige brands to recommend are Elena Walch, stylishly produced by the Walch mother & daughters team in Alto-Adige [AH-dee-zhay] region; and in that region as well, look for the Luna Nuda, which actually can use a half-hour aeration time before is fully luminates with classic flavors.  Luna Nuda is the Italian phrase, meaning “Naked Moon” often used by vintners to describe a clear night sky with a bright full moon shining and shimmering over the beautiful Italian countryside.

The Friuli region also produces wonderful grigio which are known for aromatic notes such as apricots and peaches, along with zingy acidity.  Look for the Pighin label.

And of course, there is the famed Santa Margherita brand that broke into the American sensibility forty years ago.  It continues to be one of the priciest around ($25) with a fan base that never complains.  Saluti!!