Celebrate International Pinot Grigio Day: Exploring the Fascinating World of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio

Celebrate International Pinot Grigio Day: Exploring the Fascinating World of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio

Mark your calendars for Friday, May 17th, as we celebrate International Pinot Grigio Day!

Discover the intriguing history and stylistic differences of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, two beloved white wines made from the same grape variety.

The Origins of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio

Did you know that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are made from the same grape? Pinot Gris originated in the Burgundy region of France and later spread to the Veneto and Fruili regions in Northeast Italy, where it was named Pinot Grigio. The names come from the grape's distinctive grey-pink color, with ‘gris’ and ‘grigio’ both meaning ‘grey’ in French and Italian, respectively.

Style Differences Between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio

Although they share the same grape, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are produced in distinct styles:

  • Pinot Gris: Known for a rich, floral, and sometimes sweet profile, Pinot Gris is typically harvested later, resulting in riper fruit flavors. Some bottles may have residual sugar, creating a sweeter wine.
  • Pinot Grigio: Often picked earlier, Pinot Grigio is famous for its crisp, light, and refreshing character, making it a favorite among lovers of dry white wines.

The History of Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris, also known as Pinot Grigio, is an aromatic white variety that dates back to the Middle Ages in Burgundy, France. By 1375, it had spread to regions like Germany, Italy, and Austria. Pinot Gris is a sibling of Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, easily recognized by its greyish-pink berries.

Today, Pinot Gris is most renowned in the Alsace region of France, where it produces some of the highest quality dry and sweet wines, including the sparkling Crémant d'Alsace. Beyond Europe, Pinot Gris is also grown in the US (Oregon, Washington State, and California), New Zealand, and Australia.

Differences in Australian Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio

In Australia, wines labelled as Pinot Gris often have a portion of barrel fermentation, leading to more full-bodied wines with pear, honey, and spice notes. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, is typically cold fermented in stainless steel tanks, resulting in a zesty, mineral, and acid-driven wine.

Tasting Notes for Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is known for its aromatic qualities and high acidity. It can exhibit a range of flavors from floral and fruit-forward to flinty, smoky, or spicy and honeyed. Australian Pinot Gris tends to be fresh and vibrant, with citrus notes like lemon and lime, alongside green apple and pear. More complex examples may also feature floral, ginger, and honeysuckle aromas.

Food Pairings for Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris pairs wonderfully with a variety of foods:

  • Dry Pinot Gris: Perfect with butter sauces, light fish, and seafood dishes—especially those with fresh herbs.
  • Sweeter Pinot Gris: Ideal for spicy Thai dishes or any cuisine with a hint of chili.

Pinot Gris in Tasmania

Pinot Gris was first brought to Australia in 1832 but gained popularity in the 1990s. As Jane Faulkner from the Halliday Wine Companion notes, "Not all Pinot Gris is created equal. It is a cool or mild climate variety." This realization led to increased plantings in cooler regions like the Mornington Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, and Tasmania.

Faulkner highlights Tasmanian Pinot Gris as particularly noteworthy for its weight, spice, aromatics, and acidity, making it a food-friendly and complex wine.

ANON 2022 Pinot Gris

"Palish straw colour; spice and stone-fruit aromas of a cool-grown gris; the palate is lean and dry with a touch of poached fruit in the core, then a very dry, savoury finish, where some grip adds a touch of firmness. There's a bit more dimension to this than most Pinot Gris'."

- 90 points, The Real Review 2023

Strelley Farm Estate 2023 Pinot Gris

A rich style exuding poached pear, nectarine, and floral notes with flavors of red apple, stone fruit, and baking spice. A small portion underwent fermentation in seasoned French oak, adding depth and complexity. Enjoy it with grilled banana prawns on al-dente linguine with chili and garlic oil.

To shop our Pinot Gris wines online, click here.

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