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March 15, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Pinot Gris


This week’s column will focus on a variety that has become increasingly popular with wine consumers in recent years—Pinot Gris.

Pinot Gris is essentially the white variant of Pinot Noir and is easy to spot on the vines, as the grapes have a unique pinkish/greyish/bluish colour.

The variety is versatile and capable of producing weight along with deep, rich varietal flavours without the use of oak in the winemaking process. In fact, as far as winemaking goes, Pinot Gris isn’t as challenging as other varieties for winemakers and is commonly bottled and out on the market within 4–12 weeks after fermentation.

Pinot Gris took off in New Zealand in the early 1990s, and overall plantings of the grape in this country have increased from 19 hectares in 1994 to around 400 hectares in present day. In New Zealand most Pinot Gris are made to be drunk early, within two years of bottling.

Winemakers in New Zealand seem to have mixed feelings about the variety that has been heralded as “The Great White Hope”. Even some of the country’s top winemakers have stated that they can’t get their heads around the variety.

The wine of the week this week is the River Farm Godfrey Road 2009 Pinot Gris ($14.95) from Marlborough. River Farm is a small-scale winery that crafts limited release distinctive Marlborough wines from selected vineyards that are closely managed to concentrate the wine’s flavour and character. River Farm is new to the industry and had their first vintage in 2008.

This Pinot Gris is dry and rife with the variety’s signature aromas of pear and melon. These aromas are more pronounced and slightly tweaked from partial wild yeast and oak fermentation.

The thing that this wine really has going for it is texture. The influence of French oak contributes to a creamy mouth-feel, as well as this, good acidity and an alcohol level of 13.5% lead to a long, lingering finish.

This wine would go really well with seafood or mildly spiced Asian dishes and is currently on special at Regional Wines and Spirits for $14.95, which is a pretty epic bargain as it sells for just under $20 on the River Farm website.


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