Pinot Gris is fast becoming one of the most popular white grape varieties in New Zealand, and the world at the moment. We should distinguish that the styles of ‘Pinot Gris’ and ‘Pinot Grigio’ are very different, even though they are the same grape. The Italian-style of Pinot Grigio uses grapes that were picked earlier and do not see any new wood influence. What this means is the resulting wine will be crisp and refreshing, but perhaps not as complex. New Zealand Pinot Gris are more in line with the traditional Alsatian-styles (Alscace, France); richer and more flavourful. Some New Zealand producers make their Pinot Gris in a way that could be called Pinot Grigio, but they are the exception not the norm.
Part of the ‘Pinot’ family of grape varieties, Pinot Gris is a mutation of Pinot Noir. Usually Pinot Gris has a fairly powerful nose of stonefruits, pear and nectarine, complemented by citrus flavours, with a weightier structure. Perhaps there is more structure because Pinot Gris has lower acidity. Pinot Gris can be made in different styles, ranging from lighter and fresher, to richer and more full-bodied, depending on winemaking choices. Some wineries will use oak and contact with skins and lees for a richer softer style, others will want to emphasise fruity freshness by only using stainless steel tanks. While other wineries prefer to use a mix of the two! Lucky us, we have lots of choices and are able to find a wine to suit almost any palate.
Central Otago provides an excellent climate for Pinot Gris and one of our best sellers in-store is the Hawkshead, a Pinot Gris with lovely balance, fruit sweetness, with a dry clean finish and oh so drinkable!