Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio | Vincabulary

VINcab Pinot Gris

VINcabulary : Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio

{Pee-noh GREE / Pee-noh GREE-Jhee-oh}

If any grape has the right to an identity crisis, it’s Pinot Gris. This white wine grape is actually a mutation clone of the black Pinot Noir grape. The grape’s skin colour varies wildly, sometimes even within the same bunch. Gris, French for grey, references the typical greyish-blue fruit, though the grape can also range from a tanned pink to plummy black and even very pale rose. The wines produced from Pinot Gris also vary in hue, from palest yellow to deep golden to blushing salmon, and it is one of the more popular grapes for the currently trending orange wine. Rainbow of disguises aside, Pinot Gris also goes by its Italian clone, Pinot Grigio. In sweepingly broad strokes, wines made in the fresh, crisp and unoaked style of Veneto adopt Grigio, while those in a richer, riper version go by Gris, though of course these are generalizations and lines are blurred. Unfortunately, Italian Pinot Grigio has become too popular for its own good, spawning oceans of early-harvested bland, tart and inexpensive white wine capitalizing on the Pinot Grigio wave.

The grape itself, when yields are reasonably low and it reaches full maturity, yields wines with higher alcohol, perfumed aromatics and lower acidity. The fuller body tends to be a bit oily, with rich melon, pear and tropical fruit. The grape’s ancestral home is thought to be in Burgundy, though the mutation from Pinot Noir was also happening in southwest Germany around the same time in the late 13th century. Legend has it that the grape was reportedly a favourite of Emperor Charles IV, who brought cuttings to Hungary for Cistercian monks to cultivate in 1375, which is why the grape there is known as Szürkebarát, meaning “grey monk.” Pinot Gris has many other aliases around Europe, principally Fromenteau, Grauburgunder, Malvoisie, Pinot Beurot and Ruländer.



James Oatley
TIC TOK Pinot Grigio 2010
Adelaide Hills, Australia
$17-20   12.2%
A site in the cooler Adelaide Hills brings the acidity in this zippy, medium bodied white, with light and tight spice, pear skin, meadow herbs and a light honey apple finish. Fresh, zesty and perfect for food.



Di Lenardo Vineyards
Pinot Grigio Unoaked 2011
Friuli-Venezia Giulia IGT, Italy
$18-21   12.5%
Perfect example of the blurring of Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio. No banal Italian Grigio here! Instead concentrated quince, pear, peach and creamed wildflower honey. Lees contact adds welcome weight, and juicy acidity throughout adds appeal.



Haywire Winery
Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2011 ‘Raised in Concrete’
Summerland, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA
*$23-26   13.4%

Fitting from BC’s fruit basket: cool fermentation in a concrete egg (look it up!) unites a fierce green apple attack with a round and ripe Anjou pear body. Lean and linear in youth, with lime pulp, mild white honey and a stony finish.



Pinot Gris 2011
Alsace AC, France
$19-22   13.5%

This consistent Alsatian go-to is a classic for a reason. Pleasantly off-dry, with lightly smoked citrus, cool stone, overripe pear and peach fuzz. Ripe and plump, with just enough acid oomph to carry the weighted flavours.



Neudorf Vineyards
Moutere Pinot Gris 2011
Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
*34-37  14.5%
Pinot Gris is enjoying a spike of popularity in New Zealand, and complex, mineral-driven styles like this show why. Spicy gooseberry, red apple and thyme lead into a ripe and richer style, with ample honey blossom, eraser, fragrant vanilla, meadow grass and textured pear. Lengthy finish.



A to Z Wineworks
Pinot Gris 2011
Newberg, Willamette Valley, Oregon
*$25-29   13%
Oregon’s other famous Pinot grape: Potent anise and herbal notes add intrigue to the melon, pear and yellow apple fruit. Medium bodied, with a juicy, lingering finish of bitter grapefruit and medicinally-tinged Asian pear.


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

Comments are closed.