Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gaetano d'Aquino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, 2007

When I see this wine on the shelf at Trader Joe's, with the $3.99 price tag and the pretentious, old fashioned label, I conjure up images of the ancient Italian wine-maker whose signature is engraved on the bottle. Actually, Gaetano d'Aquino is a year younger than me and lives near Los Angeles. He quotes Frank Sinatra on his website: "I feel sorry for people who don't drink wine. When they wake in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."

Born in Sicily in 1940 while World War II was raging, Gaetano was sent to live with his grandparents in Los Angeles. His parents joined him later. In 1978, he started the d'Aquino Italian Importing Company, selling 850,000 cases of wines a year to supermarkets and distributors in North America.

This wine, of course, comes from the area around Venice, and it has classic Pinot Grigio delle Venezie traits--brisk herbal, green mint smells and flavors, very fresh and lively. As the label states, it has "a pleasantly bitter after taste." It's not really a match for MezzaCorona, but it's made in the same style. And for $3.99, who is to complain?


  1. Great background on Gaetano D'Aquino. I've had the Pinot Grigio as well and it is very drinkable which at this price means you have a good value. I think most of the wines from this label land in the same area. Beyond the eponymous offerings they are also the importer responsible for bringing me my favorites from Epicuro (as well as pretty much every other offering on the Italian shelf).

    I do quite enjoy when they bring a new varietal to Trader Joe's as they have done time and time again. The most recent being the Orvieto which I have been drinking as of late. Previously they introduced Nero d'Avola, Aglianico and Salice Salentino. Look forward to seeing which one is next!

  2. I agree, Jason. Whenever I go to Trader Joe's, I usually buy two or three bottles of d'Aquino Pinot Grigio because it's such a great value. Then again, there were a couple of new PGs I saw the last time for the same price or even lower (I can't remember the names right now), and they may have been even better.

    The Italian wine selections are always interesting. My favorite is still Nerello di Bastardo but I like both of the Epicuro selections. If all of these are imported by d'Aquino, they deserve my compliments. I haven't tried the Orvieto nor the Nero d'Avola, although I'll make a note to do so.

    In the ancient past, BRP (before Robert Parker), buying wine was always the same kind of adventure I find now at TJ's. Wines were cheap enough that you could drink around, talk to friends and decide on the really good values. You learn a lot more about wine that way than you do by chasing Parker points.

  3. I too enjoyed your backgrounder on Gaetano D'Aquino. We in Canada don't have Trader Joe's to purchase wine or liquor (mores the pity) and in Ontario rely on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to make good wine selections. Surprisingly they do quite an admirable job of it and with the vast purchasing power they have, we get some good affordable wines from many countries. Re the 2007 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie I thought you'd be interested in seeing this link to a news article. Hope Trader Joe's didn't purchase any of this batch. Cheers
    Eric Aubin
    Barrie Ontario Canada

  4. LOL. I've probably accused some wines of being watery but never have I encountered one.