While today may be Pinot Grigio Day 2022, we’re celebrating the French wines made from the same grape, by their French name Pinot Gris. Discover 13 facts about Pinot Gris as well as a recommendation from a French wine importer.
- Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio?
Pinot Gris is the French name for what is also known as Pinot Grigio by their Italian neighbours. They are the same grape. It’s also known by several other names.
We know that Pinot Gris originated in France. It is widely accepted that it originated in Burgundy, yet some still say it was in Alsace (confusion perhaps because of its abundance there today). Cuttings were transported to Switzerland in the 1300s and onto Northern Italy where it was named Pinot Grigio.
- A happy accident
Pinot Gris is believed to be a mutation of Pinot Noir! A grape’s colour comes from, among other things, its number of active anthocyanins. Pinot Noir, the original grape has the largest number. On the other end of the scale is another genetic mutation, Pinot Blanc which has inactive anthocyanin. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio are in the middle with less active anthocyanin than Pinot Noir but more than Pinot Gris.
- Pinot Gris grapes
Gris means grey in French and is a reference to the colour of the grapes which can be grayish-blue. That said, the grapes can also have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. It grows in small pinecone shaped clusters.
- Same grape, different wines
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape but their wines are quite different in style. Pinot Gris tends to be sweeter or richer than the Italian Pinot Grigios which are drier and lighter bodied. Alsace Pinot Gris is known for its strong flavours and high alcohol content. The warm soils combined with the cooler climate of Alsace allow grapes to stay on the vines longer which leads to an increase in flavour and sugar development. French Pinot Gris also tend to be oilier than Italian Pinot Grigios. Flavours found in Alsatian Pinot Gris include apple, honey, white flower, mushroom and exotic spice.
- Particular wines
Pinot Gris is the only grape variety authorised to make a Reuilly rosé obtained through pellicular maceration. But it is also the grape variety of the Coteaux d’Ancennis appellation, where it is known as malvoisie.
- A dessert wine
Pinot Gris is also used to create late-harvest dessert wines.
Pinot Gris is also a parent. In Romania, Pinot Gris was crossed with Feteasca Regala to create a grape called Astra and with Grasa de Cotnari to create Columna. In Greece, it was crossed with Teinturier to create Deckrot.In Germany, it was crossed with Silvaner Gruen to create Freisamer. In Hungary, it was crossed with Pozsonyi to create Gesztus; and with Koevidinka to create Karat. Nosztori Rizling was created by crossing Welschriesling with Pinot Gris.
- Pinot Gris in France
It may have originated in Burgundy, but you’d be hard pressed (pun intended) to find any Pinot Grigio there now. Today, Pinot Grigio is largely found in Alsace but is also cultivated in the Loire Valley.
- The largest plantings of pinot gris are not in France
but in Germany, where at the last census, 5042 hectares were planted there compared with 2582 hectares in France.
- Australia and New Zealand each have almost as much area cultivated by Pinot Grigio as France. Australia had 2836 hectares and New Zealand 2488 hectares.
- Pinot Gris around the world
Apart from its homeland France, its adopted land of Italy, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, pinot gris is also cultivated in Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moldova, Romania, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
- Pinot Grigio Day
It’s been observed annually on 17th May since 2009. Share your pinot gris or pinot grigio on social media with the following hashtags #nationalpinotgrigioday #pinotgrigioday Feel free to also tag us @matildamarseillaise_en on Instagram or @matildamarseillaise on Facebook so we can see what you’re drinking.
PINOT GRIS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PINOT GRIGIO DAY 2022
Pierre Stock of Pierre Stock Wine Selections recommends 2019 Domaine des Pothiers Hors Piste.
Why do you recommend this Pinot Gris?
Most of the pinot gris are made in Alsace, this is one is made in Loire Valley in the Cote Roannaise to be exact on granitic soil.
Manual harvest and organic vinification, Hors Piste is aged in 500 litre barrels and can be cellared for 10 years.
How is this French Pinot Gris different to Italian Pinot Grigios?
This is a total different style than the Italian one, much textural and oily
What would you pair it with?
Fish or chicken with creamy sauce.
Can this Pinot Gris be aged?
Yes, for 10 years.
Happy Pinot Grigio Day 2022! Do you prefer French Pinot Gris or Italian Pinot Grigio?
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