Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio

This weeks tasting was domestic Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, if you prefer the Italian spelling. Pinot Gris is considered to be a mutation of Pinot Noir and while the wine is white the skins do have some light color to them. You may even find Pinot Gris as a rose with a pink or orange tint.

Pinot Gris is found around the world although you are probably most familiar with the Italian wines imported into the USA. In Burgundy it is often grown in the same vineyards as Pinot Noir and sometimes ends up blended in their wines. It is grown in Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and the Ukraine. Just about anywhere wine grapes are grown.

The grapes grow best in a cooler climate and since it matures early you can end up with high sugar levels or high alcohol content. You will also see it sold as a sweet wine or a late harvest wine. An interesting note about Pinot Gris is how it varies with the terroir around the world and around the USA. You will see that in our tasting notes. Some are fruity, some mineral like and some peppery, some will age very well. It all depends on the area and style the wine is made in.

The first wine we tasted was the 2010 Blackstone Winemakers Select Pinot Grigio from California. The wine was a very light yellow with a slightly stinky and vegetal nose, reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc. There were citrus flavors with a bit of minerality, lots of acid and a clean finish.

Next we tasted the 2010 Concannon Selected Vineyards Central Coast Pinot Grigio. Again a very light yellow color with a stinky vegetal nose. The flavors were citrus, mineral and it had a good amount of acidity. There was a bit of oak in the flavor and some residual sugar. More complex flavors than the first wine.

The third wine was the 2011 Etude Pinot Gris from the Carneros district. With a light yellow there was a floral, tropical nose. Complex citrus and slightly floral flavors and plenty of acid in the mouth. The combination of acid and complex floral flavors gets your attention.

Fourth was the 2009 Columbia Winery Pinot Gris from Washington’s Columbia Valley. This wine may have been a little old. While it tasted good the nose seemed to have lost quite a bit over what we thought it should be. Light yellow color like the others but the nose was closed. There were minimal mineral flavors with good acid and a clean finish. Very light body. Choked back fruit, mostly just minerality.

For our fifth wine we had the 2008 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Pinot Grigio. We also felt maybe this wine had been kept around too long. There was a complex nose of citrus and other fruit. With citrus and mineral flavors there was moderate acid. The flavors are not as complex as the nose. Very light mouth feel.

Our last wine this evening was the 2010 Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon. Again a light yellow color. The nose was reminiscent of a Riesling, oil or petrol. The flavors were pleasant citrus with good acidity and a long finish.

All of the wines were pleasant drinking wines and would do well sitting in the backyard or around the pool. They would also pair well with lighter dishes such as shellfish and poultry and also with spicier foods.

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