Pinot Gris has led a long and interesting life. Sharing what our wine investigation discovered plus … some tasting notes and recommendations.
Where Does It Come From?
This varietal was born hundreds of years ago in France. Since then, it has traveled all over the world: Italy, Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Romania, and, finally, the United States, where it is known as both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. In the U.S.A., its favorite place to live is Oregon, but it’s no stranger to California and Washington.
It’s parents were Pinot Noir. That’s right, Pinot Gris is a mutant clone of Pinot Noir. You may also know Pinot Gris by its Italian name, Pinot Grigio. Yes, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape. What’s the difference, you ask? The biggest difference is when the grape is picked and where it is growing. Pinot Grigio grows in Italy and, sometimes the USA, and is picked much earlier, making it a brighter, crispy wine. Pinot Gris is picked later to add more richness and texture.
There are two different styles of Pinot Gris in Oregon. There is early harvested Pinot Gris that has a lighter, fruity style that doesn’t touch any oak. This style is ready to drink 6-8 months after harvest. The other style is a medium bodied, richer, more viscous wine with a golden colored hue that is sometimes aged in oak. This style can age, sometimes beyond 5-10 years. Fruit characteristics of lemon, peach, lime, grapefruit, apple, and melon are common in Pinot Gris, as are floral notes of honeysuckle and orange blossom, savory notes of almond and flint, and sweet hints of vanilla and honey. Yes, this wine pairs beautifully with seafood, spicy cuisines, cheeses, and charcuterie.
Great Oregon PBottles for You to Try!
Pinot Gris finally arrived in Oregon around 1970 and has had huge success since then; so much so that Pinot Gris now out produces Chardonnay in Oregon. The region of Eola Hills makes fantastic Pinot Gris that is full of citrus with a firm backbone that begs for spice and heat as well as seafood. Mt. Hood’s Pinot Gris is the perfect bottle to bring to any sushi bar. This wine boasts aromas of Asian pear, white peach, and a hint of apple.
I like to think of Cathedral Ridge as the perfect picnic bottle. Vibrant spring salads, cheeses, and light pasta dishes are a match made in heaven for this wine. This delicious wine is made with grapes from vines that are surrounded by apple, pear, and peach orchards and it shows!
Wy East has full flavored Pinot Gris that is the perfect wine for grilled fish tacos with a spicy pineapple salsa. It has beautiful apple, peach, and melon aromas that are balanced by its bright acidity.
Last but certainly not least, we have Van Duzer Pinot Gris. This one has it all. It is springtime in a glass. Big citrus notes are followed by juicy fruits and finish with floral blossoms and a touch of minerality.
This wine drinks great alone or is the perfect companion to any night out or party…as long as I’m invited!
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