Wine of the Week: Albastrele Pinot Grigio 2006

albastrele-smallI had a friend round one evening to celebrate some good news.  I asked her to pour the wine and handed her a bottle of Pinot Grigio I had acquired in a delivery from wine merchants Laithwaites.  She diligently poured the wine while I cut up some spring onions, red pepper, fresh bread, and opened some alioli and pate.

“This is Moldovan,” she said.

“No, it’s Italian, it’s a pinot grigio, I had it the other day, it’s quite nice,” I replied.

“No, it says, Wine of the Tsars on it. It’s Moldovan,” she persisted.

She was naturally correct.  I had not even noticed.  I had even missed the cyrillic writing on the label!  I can be pretty blind sometimes!

It is not often I get to talk about wine which is actually available to purchase in the UK but Laithwaites are certainly doing their bit to promote East European wine.  Albastrele Pinot Grigio 2006 differs slightly from what one normally considers to be a stereotypical pinot grigio.  While most pinot grigio wine is very light and crisp, this is slightly more grapefruity and is a little deeper in colour.  However, although I normally go for very crisp, very dry white wine, I thoroughly enjoyed the Albasterle’s take on this classic.

albastrele-mainIt seems odd to consider that Moldova, somewhere currently considered less economically advanced, was once the place where fine wines destined for the Tsars originated.  Still, despite the fact that running water is a privilege in this country, its wine potential is enormous and Laithwaites is helping the Cahul cellar by investing in technology and lending wine expertise.

The winery in question is the medal-winning Corten estate which lies in the valley of the river Lungata, in Cahul, southern Moldova.  Since 2002, all the grapes of the Corten estate have been certified organic by an official body in New Zealand. This is largely thanks to an excellent climate: the soils and plants are almost entirely pest-free, due to a biting wind which either freezes or blows any trouble away. Plus, there is clear sunshine during the day and a large drop in temperature at night, to slow down ripening and help retain aromas, acidity and varietal flavour.

Albastrele does not only make pinot grigio but this particular vintage won an award at the International Wine Challenge 2007 in the UK.  The wine is great and I particularly love the pretty label which is adorned with images of orthodox churches.

Colour – Mid-gold hue.

Aroma – Hints of gentle peach, lime and grapefruit. Stony edge.

Taste – Crisp, minerally citrus character supported by rounder peach notes and just a suggestion of spice.

Serving suggestions
Albastrele makes a fine food partner: try with creamy fish pie, prawn and crab risotto, chicken in a creamy sauce or linguine with cream and asparagus.  However, I particularly enjoyed it with canapes/nibbles and could even easily drink this alone.  It makes a perfect summer’s day wine.

RRP £6.79 a bottle

To find out more go to Laithwaites.


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About Charlotte J

Graduate, journalist, blogger and follower of all things media.