Is there any other grape which is so divisive by synonym? Possibly Syrah and Shiraz, but even then style does not necessarily follow naming convention.
Now, you may have seen the warning on my Twitter bio that “Views and taste in wine may offend” – and I find most Pinot Grigios undrinkable – the best that can be said about them is that they are wet and contain alcohol (but then, the same could be said of aftershave). Often they are thin, acidic and lacking in flavour.
The derogatory term I use is “Chick Water“. I will leave you to guess the derivation!
Pinot Grigio is of course the Italian term for the grape whereas Pinot Gris is the lesser known French equivalent. The en vogue term nowadays is “spiritual home”, and if anywhere could make a claim to be the spiritual home for Pinot Gris it is Alsace, one of my favourite wine regions in the world. There is already a lot of good Pinot Gris being made in New Zealand, which is well suited to aromatic varieties, and the cooler parts of Australia.
Mini Pinot Gris Tasting At Ely Wine Bar
As is my wont, I recently popped into my home-from-home Ely Wine Bar in Dublin and thought I try a few different Pinot Gris served there by the glass:
Verus Vineyards Ormož Pinot Gris 2012
Ormož is in North Eastern Slovenia, near the border with Hungary. Although I knew wine is produced in Slovenia I didn’t know there were “international” grapes planted there. Set up by friends and winemakers Danilo, Božidar and Rajkowho, Verus Vineyards focus on improving quality while making their wines a true expression of their origins.
As the first of the three in the line up, it was fresh with pleasant lemon notes, slightly sour but in an appealing way. There was only just a hint of sweetness on the finish – it wasn’t apparent at all at first, but as the wine warmed up slightly in the glass it tickled the tastebuds. On tasting blind would have had no idea it wasn’t from a better established / known country – I will definitely look out for more of their wines.
Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley Pinot Gris 2012
The Yarra Valley is one of the premium wine producing areas of Australia – and one of the most exciting – check out my post on De Bortoli Yarra Valley. Innocent Bystander specialise in making good value varietal wines that reflect their Yarra origins. They use 100% hand picked fruit, wild ferments and gravity-flow winemaking techniques, plus minimal filtration and fining – this is definitely on the low-intervention side.
The 2012 has a lovely texture that would make it a great food wine, though it drinks very well on its own. The main flavours are stone fruit, pear, apple and lychee, backed up by plenty of acidity!
Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011
Kevin Judd needs no introduction, but I’ll give him one anyway. He was the chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay from its inception and launch to its 25 year anniversary. He finally left and started his own virtual winery – he bought grapes and rented winery space from former Cloudy Bay colleagues who left themselves to set up Dog Point Winery.
Although Kevin’s Sauvignons, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir take most of the limelight, his Pinot Gris is an excellent example of the variety. It’s properly off dry, rich and oily – the most Alsace-like. Flavours of peach and nectarine dominate, with a hint of crystalline ginger and cinnamon. This would be amazing with Asian food but is just so lovely to contemplate on its own.