What is Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio Wine?
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are two sides of the same coin as both names are used to describe the same grape varietal. Pinot Gris is the name used for wines from the Alsace region of France whereas Pinot Grigio is the name used for wines from the Lombardy region of Italy.
In Australia, there are no rules governing the use of the varietal names of Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. The convention in Australia is to use either Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio to indicate that the wine follows the French or Italian style. Sweeter or richer wine styles are typically labelled Pinot Gris whereas the drier, lighter-bodied varieties are labelled Pinot Grigio.
Common Pinot Gris/Grigio Wine characteristics
Pinot Gris is a medium to full-bodied wine that is fruit forward. Melon and apricot are the primary flavours with some spice and floral notes. Pinot Gris is also slightly oily or unctuous in texture. Warm climates tend to give Pinot Gris honeyed characters whereas the cooler-climate wines tend to be well structured.
Pinot Grigio is a leaner wine that is lighter in structure with lots of minerality. Crisp, fresh fruits such as pear, white peach and green apple are apparent through the Italian style. Pinot Grigio wine tends to be clear like Riesling. With some age and extra work from the winemaker, Pinot Grigio can take on some nutty or marzipan notes. Pinot Grigio wines are often mouth-puckering wines with steely, citrus acidity.
Pairing food with Pinot Gris & Pinot Grigio Wine
As Pinot Gris tends to be more full-bodied it pairs well with lighter meat dishes. Roast organic chicken is an obvious match for good reason. Terrine is also an excellent match as well as saucy seafood dishes.
Being lighter than Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio will pair very well with Mediterranean dishes. Fish, shellfish, a Caprese salad or most other salads and antipasti will all make for good company with this versatile wine. Pasta dishes will also work well but only those on the lighter side with tomatoes and fresh basil.
Notable Pinot Gris & Pinot Grigio Wine regions
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are grown in the cooler-climate regions of Australia. The Mornington Peninsula and King Valley wine regions produce great examples of these wines. Bay Estates and Baily & Baily are responsible for very popular Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio respectively.
In South Australia, both wines are produced across several regions including the Fleurieu Peninsula, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley. Peter Lehman, Petaluma and Taylor are the big hitters from these regions and indeed nationally.
The difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio in Australia is stylistic. Australian Pinot Gris follows the French style that is bolder and fuller in body. The Pinot Gris wines from Alsace, however, are known for their powerful flavours and relatively high alcohol. This is due to the soils and climate in the region. Dry autumnal conditions allow for more time for the grapes to remain on the vines to develop flavour and sugar. Alsace, on the border with Germany, is cooler in climate but the soils are warm and rich and make for ideal growing.
The future of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio Wine
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio continue to be popular in Australia. Only the most exceptional wines are reserved for cellaring, as both styles are best when opened early. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are light and fresh wines that suit the warm climate, light foods and the coastal Australian lifestyle.
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Grigio
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