Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, or Grauburgunder or Tokaji Ruländer…whatever you want to call is just know that this versatile grape is the summer sipper of the season! In the United States, this adaptable grape has, in general, been considered a Porch Pounder (their words not mine….HAHAHA) BUT there are 100s of expressions the Pinot Gris can reveal. This delicious yet shapeshifting grape might likely be the best expression of the marriage of art and science of winemaking. As with many varietals, terroir dictates the “potential” of this grape yet the style of the region (or individual winemaker) can produce magic as the Pinot Gris grape can express anything from bland neutral white wine to top end performances in the Grand Cru vineyards of Alsace where Pinot Gris is deemed a Noble Grape!
The Pinot Gris grape (one of the several offspring of the ancient Pinot Noir grape) is not only confusing to land on one phenolic/tasting description but each region, over time, has given the orphaned grape a new name and adopting it to their region.
In the US, the Pinot Gris is the ugly-headed step sister (with a much softer touch) to the Chardonnay Grape as the second most consumed white grape next to Chardonnay. In fact, these two grapes originally hale from the same region, Burgundy and have the same parent Grape, Pinot Noir. Speaking of the Pinot Gris sister grapes these are a few that have a little more clout as they are used for Champagne or sparkling wines too (Pinot meunière, Pinot Blanc)
Another interesting fact is that Pinot Gris, the word Gris is both a noun and an adjective. Gris is the French word for “gray”. As an offspring of the Pinot Noir (Pinot means pines as its leaves have a pine tree shape and Noir meaning Black), Pinot Gris follows suit with the leaves in a pine tree shape and the grape itself is named for its color – gray. It is a fruit that is gray-blue but can range from brown- pink, white or deep purple. As a result, depending on how long the winemaker allows to keep the skins on the juice, the finished wine can have a copper tinge or be light pink.
In cooler regions, Pinot Gris is revered as a steely mineral driven wine or in hotter regions it is used as a bland cash cow. Because it is an early ripening grape which is why we see it into the markets before almost all of the grapes. It is usually the maker uses it as a first to market grape to help offset the costs.
In the article we talk how regional styles make or break the Pinot Gris grape. Try SideCar Mama's Favs!
Trimbach Pinot Gris - $30 (and worth every penny!)
Pertico Pinot Gris - $15 Although it is Italian, the refer to it as a Pinot Gris (that's hint to quality!)
We love trying all kinds of Pinot Gris/Grigio and invite you to do the same. Here is a great selection of Washington VS The World Wine Tasting. Expand you palette and try Pinot Gris from different regions of the world so that you can find your favorite Pinot Gris to put in your glass!