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The Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Grape


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About Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

(Synonyms: Auvernat Gris, Beurot, Burgunder Roter, Friset, Fromenteau, Fromenteau Gris, Grauburgunder, Grauer Burgunder, Grauer Clevner, Griset, Kleiner Traminer, Malvoisie, Pinot Beurot, Pirosburgundi, Râjik, Ruländer, Rulandské Šedé, Rulandské Sivé, Sivi Pinot, Speyeren, Szürkebarát, Tokay)

Background

Map showing the Burgundy region of France

Pinot Gris, also widely known by its Italian name of Pinot Grigio (both Gris and Grigio meaning “grey”) is a white-wine grape originating in the Burgundy region of France. Though it is basically the same grape under both names, the stylings associated with each name are somewhat different, as we will soon see. The grape is another of the several mutations from Pinot Noir, which is famously unstable genetically; as a recognized variety, it goes back to the early middle ages (by 1300, it had already travelled to Switzerland).

Both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are today widely grown across the wine-producing world, producing oceans of bland, indistinguishable plonk and the occasional bottling of more interest. To many casual wine drinkers, “pinot grigio” has become a loose synonym for any vague white wine. That is a shame, because the grape, treated with care, can do much better.

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The “Pinot Gris” styling of the grape tends at its best toward a characteristically Alsatian round, fairly rich, almost creamy style, wherein the acidity is not dominant and the alcohol is low. The “Pinot Grigio” styling, conversely, emphasizes acidity and crispness, has a bit more alcohol, and is generally “leaner” and less fruit-forward than the Alsatian style. Neither is inherently better than the other: they simply fill different niches. It is best to consider them as almost two different wine types; and the name under which the wine is marketed is usually a reliable clue to its style.

In the U.S., it is the “Pinot Grigio” style that accounts for most of the dire plonk; wines labelled “Pinot Gris” are not thereby automatically better, but because that is not the more faddy name, you have better odds. As you will see below, the majority of introductory material about this grape tends to be aimed at folk who recognize it as “Pinot Grigio”.

(The grape is also fairly widely known in Germany under the synonym "Ruländer"; that use usually—though not invariably—denotes a sweet wine.)

Factoid: The grape was reportedly a favorite of the Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings imported to Hungary by Cistercian monks: the brothers planted the vines on the slopes of Badacsony bordering Lake Balaton in 1375. The vine soon after developed the name Szürkebarát meaning “grey monk”.

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Some Descriptions of Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Wines

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Some Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigios to Try

(About this list.)

We have set out separate lists for the two types, Gris and Grigio.


Some Pinot Gris to Try
Huia Pinot Gris

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Gris

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Trimbach “Reserve” Pinot Gris
(This is not their “Personnelle” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Jules Taylor Pinot Gris

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Emile Beyer “Tradition” Pinot Gris

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We found no Pinot Gris wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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Some Pinot Grigios to Try
Jermann Pinot Grigio

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Torre Rosazza Pinot Grigio

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Abbazia di Novacella “Neustift” Pinot Grigio

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Noble Vines “152” Pinot Grigio

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



St. Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio
(They bottle numerous Pinot Grigios: this is their basic bottling, not their “Anger” or “Sanct Valentin” bottlings.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We found no Pinot Gris wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Thursday, 16 January 2020, at 11:17 pm Pacific Time.