Body: Full with a rich texture.
Dry / Sweet: Dry to medium-dry
Age: Drink while young
Aka: Also known as Grauburgunder in Germany and often labeled as Ruländer when made as a sweet wine in the same country.
Other: An interesting alternative to Chardonnay.
Pinot Gris (PEE-no GREE) is a high quality grape variety that has become increasingly fashionable. It originated in Burgundy in France and has an excellent pedigree, being one of the best-known mutations of Pinot Noir. The second part of the name “Gris” means “grey” in French, and refers to the colour of the grape skins, which can range in color from a greyish blue to a pale purple.
Pinot Gris is actuallythe same grape variety as Pinot Grigio from Italy, but the latter is used to make totally different wines in the Crisp style (see Pinot Grigio in the Crisp style). The reason for these differences is that Pinot Gris is harvested late, while Pinot Grigio grapes are harvested early in order to retain a high level of acidity and also to control the development of their flavor profile.
The most impressive Pinot Gris is made in Alsace in France, where the emphasis is on ripe fruit. The grapes are left to fully ripen and are harvested late in the autumn. Consequently, potential alcohol (sugar level) is high and acidity is low. As a result, these wines are rich and full bodied and can be almost oily in texture.
Complex, yet delicate, aromas of flowers (honeysuckle), dried fruits and sometimes gingerbread are combined with tropical fruit flavors of banana, mango, melon and peach, along with hints of honey and spice. These wines can range from dry to medium-dry, but also include wonderfully sweet dessert wines.
Availability was once very limited, but thankfully this is increasing all the time, as more and more people discover the delights of Pinot Gris. In recent years, Pinot Gris has also attracted attention (much like Viognier) as a very interesting alternative to Chardonnay.
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