Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Whites for Summer: Pinot Gris & Pinot Grigio

Now that Summer is finally here! it is time to explore more fun whites, by trying and learning about delicious Pinot Gris/ Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, as it is known in Italy, and Grauburgunder, as it is known in Germany, are all the same grape variety, basically a grape mutation of Pinot Noir. However, the style of wines Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio can create will be very different according to climate, winemaking intent and yields. 

Picture of Pinot Gris, courtesy of Wines of Alsace.

One of the best expression of this grape comes from Alsace, where it produces dry, as well as, sweet/dessert styles, affected by botrytis (VT:Vendages Tardives and SGN: Sélection de Grains Noble).  In Alsace, the perfect combination of dry autumns, mineral soils and low yields, produce wines that have fuller bodies, balanced acidity and enticing aromas featuring citrus, spices and honey notes. Here, Pinot Gris is considered one of the top 4 noble varieties of the appellation, and is vinified both as a varietal and in blends, yielding an unctuous and worth aging wine. 

In Germany, especially in Baden and Pfalz, we can find some good samples too, though these tend to be higher in acidity and with lower alcohol levels than those from Alsace. 
In Italy, Pinot Grigio sales raised up to 223 million bottles last year alone. We have two different styles: the mass produced, inexpensive quaff that don't show much complexity/ personality, yet it continues to be a favorite of US consumers.  And better yet, it's the Pinot Grigio produced in appellations in the north east of Italy, such as Alto Adige-Trentino, Collio and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia that make very good samples featuring medium bodies, stone fruit flavors, nice minerality and zippy acidity.

Besides the locations described above, Pinot Gris/ Pinot Grigio has been planted all around the world, in California is usually treated as Chardonnay and fermented it or aged in oak. Oregon produces some good examples, mostly due to Oregon’s cool weather that suits this grape quite well. New Zealand’s Southern Island (Martinsborough) and Victoria, Australia offer good promise too.
Something to notice about this variety is that its skins vary in color, going from grey to blue, to purple, almost too dark to create a white wine. In any case, producers make white wine by removing the grape's skins. 

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio usually features a deep golden color, light to medium bodies and aromas showing honey, lemon,yellow apple, white nectarine, peach and tropical mango, according to climate variations. 

Recommended Producers:
Alsace: Hugel, Trimbach, Weinbach, Zind-Humbrecht, Josmeyer, Lucien Albrecht
Italy: Alois Lageder, Felluga, Attems, Franco Terpin, Tiefenbrunner,Jermann.
Oregon: A to Z, Chehalem, King Estate, Benton Lane, Elk Cove, Big Table Farm.

Wines that I have tasted lately that I liked:
Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio 2018, Alto Adige $12
Gradis Ciutta Pinot Grigio 2018, Collio $19
J Hofstatter Pinot Grigio 2018, IGT Delle Dolomiti $19
Astrolabe Pinot Gris 2016, New Zealand, $14
A to Z Pinot Gris 2018, Oregon, $14
Thank you to Frederick Wildman, HB Merchants and Vineyard Brands for donating samples.

Cheers! Silvina
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