Categories: Fresh and Crisp – Funky and Floral – Sweet
Long thought of as only a simple, refreshingly light summer wine, Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio is often misunderstood. Many are simply not familiar with the varying styles this grape can produce. With this varietal, not only does the vineyard’s climate heavily influence the grape’s ultimate flavor profile, the winemaker’s choices can have an even greater impact on the end wine.
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are exactly the same grape! Related to the Pinot Noir grape, its skin takes on slightly blue to grey color even being in the white grape category. In French, where the grape is one of the primary varietals in the Alsace Region, Gris means grey. In Northern Italy, another region where the variety is grown in high volume, Grigio means grey. Another German based name for the grape is grauburgunder or Ruländer.
Pinot Grigio is light, bright, cheerful and refreshing keeping flavors more in the citrus lemon-lime and just ripe pear categories. Cool climates where significant drops in temperatures at night halt ripening, allows grapes to mature at a slow pace and maintain high levels of acidity. High acidity pairs perfectly with bright, tart, refreshing citrus and apple flavors when the grapes are harvested just at the peak of early ripeness. Alcohol is typically lower and acidity higher than in Pinot Gris. As these wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks, there is no change in the wine’s flavor profile. Meant to be opened and enjoyed young, these wines are rarely stored or aged in a cellar.
Pinot Gris is a much richer, heavier and even spicier wine with layers of flavor including honey, ginger, ripe apples and pears to stone fruits such as ripe peach. Pinot Gris can have a strong aroma with a blend of floral and tropical fruits. If left on the vine until very late in the harvest season, the sugar content of the grape can be so high it cannot all convert to alcohol leaving the wine with a bit of sweetness. With high acidity and full body, many Pinot Gris can age well and become more complex with concentrated fruit and spice. As with its lighter, brighter sibling, Pinot Gris is almost never fermented or aged in oak.