Today is Pinot Grigio Day but we’re looking at the French Pinot Gris, a white wine made from the same grape varietal.
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio?
Pinot Gris is the French name used for wines made the pinot gris grape. Pinot Grigio is the Italian name used for wines made with the pinot grigio grape. So, while today celebrates Pinot Grigio, it is also worth celebrating Pinot Gris from France.
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is also known by a few other names
Pinot Gris grapes
The grapes have a greyish-blue fruit, hence the gris meaning grey in French in the name. That said the grapes can also be brownish pink, black or even white. The word Pinot is likely is the name because the grapes grow in pine-cone shaped clusters.
Pinot gris grapes are thought to be a mutant clone of the pinot noir variety. University of California researchers found it to have a very similar DNA profile to pinot noir. The leaves and vines are so close to each other that the colour is the only aspect that differentiates pinot gris from pinot noir.
Pinot Gris wine
The French style Pinot Gris tends to be sweeter or richer whereas the Italian style Pinot Grigio is drier, and lighter bodied.
Wines made from pinot grigio grapes vary in colour from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink (a winery in Nothern Italy was the first in 1961 to vinify white wine from pink grapes). Pinot gris grapes are also popular for skin-contact wines.
French pinot gris wines from Alsace are known for their strong flavours and relatively high alcohol content. The Alsatian climate and soils bring these characteristics. The cooler climate but warm soils allow the grapes to stay on the vines longer which leads to the development of flavour and sugar.
Where is pinot gris cultivated around the world?
Pinot gris is found all around the world. It has its origins in Burgundy, France in the Middle Ages and spread to Switzerland by 1300. Today Pinot Grigio is mostly grown and made in Alsace, not Burgundy.
Italian Pinot Grigio is found in the Lombardy region and in Alto Aldige, the northernmost wine region of Italy. The Friuli-Venezi Giulia region also has considerable Pinot Grigio growths.
Germany’s Pinot Gris plantings make up about 1/3 of the total cultivations of pinot gris in the world. They have over 5000 hectares according to a 2008 census.
Australia and New Zealand
As at the 2008 census, Australia had more pinot gris plantings than France. New Zealand’s pinot gris plantings have jumped considerably from just 300 or so hectares in 2003 to almost 2500 hectares in 2019.
Pinot gris is also grown in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moldova, Romania, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
Where to buy French pinot gris in Australia for Pinot Grigio Day?
European Wine Store sells 3 French Pinot Gris.
Each has quite different descriptions including:
- “a touch of honey sweetness” for the Domaine Albert Mann Pinot Gris 2018;
- “peaches, apricots and white blossom” for the Cave de Turckheim Pinot Gris 2018; and
- “a concentrated, fresh but also earthy body” for the Trimbach Pinot Gris ‘Réserve’ 2016.
France-Soir Wine Selections has several French pinot gris to choose from for Pinot Grigio Day.
These include a 2000 vintage, some pinot gris grand crus and a dessert pinot gris, all of which are available in its online store:
- 2019 Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Gris – a winery established by the family 200 years ago https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2019-domaine-paul-blanck-pinot-gris/
- 2018 Domaine Des Pothiers Hors Piste Pinot Gris – another family winery. It’s been certified as organic and biodynamic since 2010. https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2018-domaine-des-pothiers-hors-piste-pinot-gris/
- 2018 Domaine Ostertag Jardin Pinot Gris https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2018-domaine-ostertag-jardin-pinot-gris/
- 2018 Domaine Josmeyer Pinot Gris Grand Cru Hengst https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2018-domaine-josmeyer-pinot-gris-grand-cru-hengst/
- 2018 Domaine Josmeyer Pinot Gris Grand Cru Brand https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2018-domaine-josmeyer-pinot-gris-grand-cru-brand/
- 2000 Domaine Trimbach Selection De Grains Nobles Pinot Gris https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2000-domaine-trimbach-vendanges-tardives-pinot-gris/
- 2018 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Roche Calcaire – “Flint, smoke, chalk and cream all appear in brief flashes on the nose of this wine. The palate still holds some residual carbon dioxide but then slowly reveals serene and ripe but bright pear fruit at its core. Freshness takes its cue from a pithy texture and lends shape to this bold but fresh, bone-dry wine.” WINE ENTHUSIAST https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2018-zind-humbrecht-pinot-gris-roche-calcaire/
- 2015 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendanges Tardives 375ml is a sweeter, late harvest dessert wine made from pinot gris in Alsace. https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/product/2000-domaine-trimbach-vendanges-tardives-pinot-gris/
The French Cellar has one French pinot gris: La Cave D’Augustin Florent Pinot Gris from Alsace.
The tasting note says:
“Tasting Notes: Beautifully balanced and splendidly delicious. pronounced flowers of apricots, honey suckle butter and peaches with a long strong finish”
Le Plonque has one Alsatian pinot gris: Domaine Anne de Laweiss – Pinot Gris Collection 2016
Of it they say:
“Bright and light- yellow robe, delicate nose, fruity with hints of floral notes, this Pinot Gris will surprise you by its freshness, its complexity, and its long finale note”
They also recommend the following food pairing: exotic & spicy dishes, chicken, strong cheese.
This pinot gris is only available for purchase in a 6 bottle case for $84 with free delivery.
What’s your favourite pinot gris? Have you ever tried a dessert pinot gris? Happy Pinot Grigio Day!
If you like French wine, you may also like our articles about other French varietals: