Pinot Gris grapes
A delicate blush of colour in the glass with lifted rose petal and honeyed pear aromas. The palate gives fresh flavours of nectarine, nashi pear and crème caramel with flinty mineral notes on the finish. Just delicious!
Pinot Gris has made a rapid entry into the Australian wine scene. Five years ago, there were less that 200 tonnes of grapes produced. Today there is close to 3000 tonnes and winemakers are unable to keep up with market demand. In fact, looking at projected grape intake figures, it would not be surprising if in the future, Pinot Gris became as popular as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.
Being a variant of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris originated in the Burgundian vineyards of France. However it wasn't until the vine migrated to the northern region of Alsace, that it made a name for itself. From here, it travelled across Europe to many different countries, including Italy and Germany. Today, it also has a significant presence in both America and New Zealand.
There are many synonyms for Pinot Gris. In Alsace, it is known at Tokay Pinot Gris. In Italy, it is commonly referred to as Pinot Grigio and in Germany it is known as Ruländer or Grauburgunder.
Gris, meaning grey in French, refers to the colour of the Pinot Gris grapes. As a result, wines made from Pinot Gris often have a slight coppery hue. They have a delicately perfumed aroma with flavours stretching from fresh pear through to tropical fruits. Pinot Gris is similar to Chardonnay in that it has good palate weight and flavour. Perhaps this is not surprising considering they both have similar lineage.
In Australia, there are two distinctively different styles of Pinot Gris. Firstly, there is a zippy, vibrant style with lemon freshness and crisp acidity. This contrasts with a richer type that has greater body and texture. In both styles, there is often an attractive mineral element that adds complexity.
The Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula, Murray Valley, Riverina, Tasmania and Yarra Valley are home to the largest plantings of Pinot Gris in Australia. However there are small amounts planted in many regions across the country, which is a sign that there is growing interest in the variety.
Pinot Gris is an excellent partner to food due to its good palate weight yet subtle varietal character. The fresh styles go well with oysters, shellfish, white fish and garden salads whereas the richer wines suit salmon, yabby pate and white meats.
Notable Australian producers include T'Gallant, Red Hill
Estate, Miceli, Yarra Burn, Pike and Joyce, Nugan Estate, Kingston
Estate, Chain of Ponds, Redbank, Tigress and Brown Brothers.
© Toni Paterson 2005