First things first – Pinot Gris is exactly the same thing as Pinot Grigio. Just the French & Italian names for the same varietal. Not unlike Shiraz and Syrah – Australian and French for the same grape. The metamorphosis of nomenclatures as grapes migrate from their home terroir to new exotic locations is just one dimension of a fascinatingly nuanced and intricate subject. It is what makes wine so interesting for me. And frustrating for some who may see a hidden conspiracy to maintain the mystery and snobbery around wine. It is not hard to see why stalwarts of the wine world consistently say “the learning and discovery does not end.”
Pinot Gris is not one of the big three whites i.e. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Together these top three take the largest share of the market, and have been the focus of my own self structured study. As my wine education progresses, however, I find myself seeking the lesser known varietals. Aside from an interesting name & country of origin, this quest for the uncommon prompted me to pick up a bottle of Vin Koru Pinot Gris from New Zealand on a recent trip to TJ’s.
This is one occasion when I reversed the practice of researching and reading before tasting. I went straight to the tasting. It was interesting that my tasting notes seemed to pick up on the typical characteristics of Pinot Gris that research later revealed.
A little about the varietal. Pinot Gris finds its natural home in Alsace, France, but has been well adapted in Oregon, British Columbia & New Zealand. Despite a commonality in the grape substrate, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines differ in style. The former tending to be more fruity & juicy and the latter crisp and sharp. On the body style spectrum, generally Pinot Gris lies somewhere between Riesling (light) and Sauvignon Blanc (Medium). The disclaimer being this also depends entirely on the vintner and wine style. It is a cool zone varietal with some of the best wines coming from Alsace. Its scent is similar to but richer than Riesling. Quince, marmalade and candied fruit are common scents. Compared to Riesling, it seems almost “plump” in the mouth. Fruit tastes echo those in the scent. The aftertaste lingers long.
My rating for this Pinot Gris is modest and not representative of what one might expect from this varietal in general. Look for reports on a few more of these in coming weeks.
|2011 Vin Koru Pinot Gris, New Zealand. $5.99|
|Color||Clear, water like, very light bodied appearance.|
|Nose||Fruity, juicy, touch of lime, some floral notes. Chardonnay like oakiness.|
|Taste||Semi dry. Medium body belied the exceedingly light appearance. Mild & soft with closed, blunt fruitiness. Rounded. Suppressed zest. Pleasantly bitter finish that lingers. Hint of mineral.|
|Remarks||Closed & tentative. Unremarkable. Reasonable value for money.|