Editor’s note: “Through the Grapevine” is a bi-weekly wine review where I pretend to know what I’m talking about on the topic of different affordable wines.
A good glass of wine can serve as an escape from the physical reality. With a good vino, you can be transported to the sprawling foothills of Napa in California, the lush French Bordeaux countryside or the open, golden landscapes of Tuscany.
The back-of-bottle label for Villa Pozzi pinot grigio told me it would take me to Sicily and, with temperatures plummeting seemingly out of nowhere in recent weeks — and the stress of senior year beginning to take its toll — the promise of sunny, mild and sun kissed Sicily was exactly what I needed.
Well, Villa Pozzi lied, and I feel personally victimized.
“When you open a bottle of Villa Pozzi, it’s like taking a trip to a warm, cozy Italian villa nestled in a small Sicilian town far, far away from the busy everyday,” the wine’s label read. “With Villa Pozzi, you’re always just a sip away from Sicily,” … in hell.
The wine has a soft, golden honey color, which is probably its most desirable attribute. A good pinot grigio is medium- to full-bodied, is dry without parching the palette, and offers a delicate balance between sweetness and acidity. At first glance, the color indicates it will be a winner — it is not so pale as to look weak (as in a Sauvignon Blanc) but not so golden that it appears heavy (such as a good, stiff Chardonnay).
Described as exhibiting, “soft aromatic flavors of perfumed rose and honeysuckle,” Villa Pozzi’s general unlikeability begins at the bottle’s opening. Any respectable drinker, before not-so-subtly taking a good test swig straight from the bottle, gently smells the wine once uncorked. Once opened, Villa Pozzi immediately gave off odors reminiscent of grandma’s house: musty, flowery and not-too-fresh.
In terms of mouthfeel, the wine’s color did accurately reflect its body. The wine was not heavy and felt as though it were capable of easy, casual drinking — if you grew up with an Italian family, you know pinot grigio flows non-stop at every gathering, and bottles of it likely take up the entire vegetable crisper portion of your family’s refrigerator.
What? It’s made from grapes.
The taste, however, left much to be desired. If you can get past the thought of sipping on grandma’s Chanel No. 5-soaked blankets, sharp flavors of citrus, not easily discernable, hit the tongue with a force that can only be described as a hard spank, but not in the good way.
“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?” Jessica Simpson, eating canned tuna, asked on a 2003 episode of her show “Newlyweds” with then-husband Nick Lachey.
Similarly, when drinking Villa Pozzi pinot grigio one can only ask: Is it grapefruit or is it lemon? Is it orange or is it lime? Is it is vinegar or is it wine?
The wine had little, if any, dimension in flavor. It started dry and bitter and it ended the same, like Thanksgiving dinner when your estranged aunt, without warning, asks if you have a boyfriend yet and, if you don’t, when you will. In situations like these I would immediately grab the wine, but only if Villa Pozzi is not in reach. Grab the water instead, because this wine will leave your mouth dehydrated and your head with a serious ache.
Admittedly, when purchasing this wine, price was a deciding factor. At $7.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle, I wasn’t expecting the best, but when compared to the wine I already held in my hand — Barefoot brand pinot grigio at $6.99 for a bottle of the same size, which I know is decent for its price and which I should have purchased — I expected more from a wine manufactured in Italy by an Italian family.
The Pozzi family states it has a long history of selling and producing wine, beginning with its patriarch, who is only made known as Grandfather Pozzi on the company’s website — and from an Italian, that just screams “The Godfather” — but its wine is not reflective of its alleged history.
“Using only superior quality grapes and controlled production, coupled with simple, elegant packaging at an affordable price, Pozzi Wines continue to follow the family motto, ‘Res non Verba’ (Deeds not Words),” the company’s website states.
The greatest deed the Pozzis could do would be to take a little more pride in their wines. When compared to Barefoot, everyone’s favorite Californian wine brand first made in a garage, Villa Pozzi pinot grigio pales in comparison in terms of flavor, body and profile.
The moral of the story is to not always believe what you read. Of course, that means you should also take this review with a grain of salt, but when a wine tells you it is a “leisurely escape from the world outside and a journey of taste that makes any day feel special,” it is more than likely lying. Instead, drink with your first instinct.
The takeaway: When you can, treat yourself and get the cheaper wine instead.
Villa Pozzi pinot grigio was advertised as a staff pick at Burby and Bates in Orono as of Sept. 30. It may or may not still be listed as such. Either way, it is recommended you not buy it.