New Zealand Is Mad for Pinot Gris
On a recent trip, the Telegraph’s wine columnist Victoria Moore was surprised to see how “crazy everyone in New Zealand seemed to be for pinot gris.” Moore wonders when Britain will catch on.
“Growers were scrambling to make more of it to meet demand. ‘Pinot gris is now well-established on wine lists here,’ winemaker at Nautilus in Marlborough Clive Jones said. ‘It’s come out of the main list so you have your sauvignon blanc section, your chardonnay section, and now you have to have your pinot gris section as well.’
“I can’t even imagine that happening [in Britain]. First of all, we barely drink pinot gris. We drink pinot grigio. Same grape, different style of wine. It’s an unofficial distinction, but pinot grigio is crisp, dry and often fairly neutral, while you can expect pinot gris to be textured, aromatic, floral and often also off-dry.
“Pinot grigio is the ultimate anti-wine. It is usually Italian, or Hungarian masquerading as Italian, and so insipid it can be drunk by the vat (and very often is.) Sommeliers scorn it.
“[Pinot gris] is a wine with spring blossom in its step. This grape is a mutation of the much-lauded, red-skinned pinot noir, a fact that is very surprising if you have only ever tasted the insipid, dry ‘hose it down in the park’ versions. It has a blush, rather than a white skin, and a vestige of this colour is often seen in the wine, which might be the palest pink, or gris.
“‘What I’ve learnt with pinot gris is that if you wait for the flavour – that gorgeous pinot gris floral smell – to come on the vine, then you lose the acid,’ says Helen Masters, who works with this variety at Ata Rangi in Martinborough. ‘If you wait until you think, “Oh yeah, it tastes like pinot gris,” it’s too late. You have to bring the grapes in, and that flavour then comes through in the winery and you end up with a wine that has loads in there but is still sharp.’
“Her 2015 Ata Rangi Lismore pinot gris is beautifully balanced, off-dry, yes, but also lithe and vivacious with a streak of white grapefruit running through the blossom.”
Original article by Victoria Moore, The Telegraph, March 26, 2016.
Photo by ALAMY.