That title is a bit misleading actually – I don’t mind tasting Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio category, even though the category has become something of an abomination.
Indeed much of the challenge with Australian (and Kiwi for that matter) Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio is that you don’t know what you’re going to get when you pop the rock/twist the cap. Will it be a lean, lightly textural, acid driven Grigio? Or a richer, fuller, Gris? Or will you just get a slightly sweet, bland white wine that screams ‘I’ve been made for a market segment’, made by someone who doesn’t gives a shit whether it’s authentic/good?
Sigh. On that matter, Grigio (apparently) outsells Gris so everyone just labels it Grigio. The Pinot G scale is obviously what’s needed, but no one uses it. Double sigh.
Anyway, here are a few Pinot Gris and Grigio that I pulled out of the sample pile.
Riversdale Estate Roaring 40s Tasmania Pinot Grigio 2015
This is very good Grigio. Unexpectedly excellent wine, from a huge vineyard up Cambridge way in the Coal River Valley (near the UTAS telescope) that is just really coming on stream. The key here is that it balances up the perfume of ripe grapes with rather firm acidity, making for an aromatic, pear juice and lemon grass scented wine backed by a dry, chalky and quite grippy palate. There’s a very clever length of flavour too, without looking flabby. Long too. I kept looking at this wine, utterly surprised that it could be so good – just a blinder for the price. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 18/20, 93/100. 13.4%, $22.50. Would I buy it? Yes.
Soumah Single Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Grigio 2015
Excellent packaging and smart wine. Tick tick. Great to see the hint of pink here too – this is real wine. There’s a lovely sweaty pear intensity to the nose too over a dry, slightly sharp palate of cutting acidity and intense pear juice fruit. A little roundness would be welcome, but I can’t discount the intensity of flavour or the freshness. Good Grigio from a winery doing well. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.6%, $26. Would I buy it? I’d easily drink half a bottle.
The Other Wine Co. Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2015
Shaw + Smith’s ‘other’ label, though an entirely different venture, in a light pale blue. Again, nice packaging! Perhaps just the faintest suggestion of bronze in the colour, the nose is really quite varietal. Indeed the whole package is surprisingly intense, the palate finely layered with quite full, chalky, yellow apple Gris characters and chalky acidity. There is a moreishnes as about this that is very very appealing. Drink sooner rather than later, as you sense this is going to be just a little chubby with bottle time. Good stuff now though. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $26. Would I buy it? I’d go a few glasses.
Raidis Estate Cheeky Goat Coonawarra Pinot Gris 2015
Another pink hued wine! This has always been a reliable and authentic Gris, and this is right on the money. Pink blush with a little orange, it’s a juicy, pink grapefruit and fruit tingle wine with gentle richness and a soft finish. A decent mouthful of a Gris, with a viscosity that is about right. Good, simple wine. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 17/20, 90/100. 13.9%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass would do.
Mount Avoca Limited Release Pyrenees Pinot Grigio 2015
Shares much the Raidis in style, just a bit wilder. Very light coppery orange – clearly some skin contact here – the slightly volatile nose revealing a twang of peach skin and strawberry before a textural, warm and dry palate that is lifted up by late strawberry citrus fruit. It’s just a bit firm and warm to be delicious (without quite the fruit depth to match), but I like the attempt. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.8%, $28.95. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Longhop Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2015
Now sourced from a vineyard at Lenswood at 550m. Green straw coloured, thee nose is a fruit salad of pear and peach, the chunky palate ripe and chubby, with just a little late chalky acidity. A bit broad and clumsy for mine, if with some intensity. One of the few wines from Dom Torzi I’ve never ‘got’. Best drinking: 2016. 16.5/20, 87/100. 13%, $18. Would I buy it? No.
Longview Queenie Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio 2015
Green straw. The very pale nose has just a slight dash of pear juice, the palate a jumble of citrus, volatility and sweetness, the finish tart, the flavours cheap tasting. No. Best drinking: 2016. 15/20, 83/100. 12.9%, $19.50. Would I buy it? No.
Tower Estate Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2013
Curious that this is a current release. Green straw coloured, the pear fruits are already fading on the nose, with the hay and hessian of bottle age taking over. Flat palate has alcohol warmth, but little else. Better a few years ago. Best drinking: 2015. 14.8/20, 82/100. 12.5%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
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