Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, you do my head in.
Here’s a variety capable of textural magnificence. Of mouthfilling richness in Alsace or Central Otago, then pure, saline delicacy and effortless freshness in the Veneto.
Yet at the same time, it’s a grape responsible for oceans of flavourless shit. Of wine after wine after wine with excess sweetness (in Gris) and zero flavour (in Grigio). And don’t get me started on the volume of off-dry Australian Pinot Grigio that should really be labelled Gris but Grigio sells better.
Anyway, here’s an antidote (of sorts). 7 Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio that I’d actually drink.
Ravensworth Pinot Gris 2018
This is the best local Pinot Gris I’ve had in some time. A blend of Canberra, Hilltops and Tumbarumba fruit. Importantly, Bryan Martin has used skin contact to build weight and grip, without descending into harshness or fatness. It’s slightly pink, but not rosé coloured, the nose with a flush of blood orange and musk, the palate dry, layered, full-flavoured but fresh, ripe and very much Gris, but tightened by the phenolics. The secret here is the sheer complexity of the thing. Just read this description of the winemaking from the Ravensworth website:
‘All sorts of shenanigans went on this year after being inspired by the beautiful colour of last year’s gris: we used some carbonic action to bring out the spice and other savoury elements that linger deep in the pinot gris berry and skin, then we held a few batches on skins for 3-5 days to add texture and finallly whole-bunch pressed another batch to preserve the fresh fruit aromatics. Each batch was fermented in oak, concrete, ceramic and inox. So yeh, a lot going on and so much fun to make’
A joy to drink as well. Best drinking: Now and for the next 2-3 years for a start. 18.5/20, 93/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? Absolutely.
Curly Flat Pinot Gris 2018
Aromatics are the white wine future of Macedon. Well, certain vineyards at least. This is lovely wine too. Deftly handled ripe pear fruit is the star. It’s chunky but not heavy at all – the Macedon acidity keeps this taut. A prime example of power contained by acid and its a really satisfying white. Reminds me of Pfalz Grauburgunder (which can be delicious). Best drinking: Now or up to four years, perhaps longer. 18/20, 93/100. 13.8%, $32. Would I buy it? Yes.
Pizzini White Fields Pinot Grigio 2017
Lovely wine. This includes some Whitlands fruit and all the better for it judging by this pure white. Lovely, delicate, finely textured Pinot Grigio with beautiful white flower aromatics, a little marzipan and a dry and naturally acidic palate. That acid is just a little grippy and chalky, but the overall effect is grace and finesse. Lovely. Best drinking: Now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $24. Would I buy it? Yes.
Church Road Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2018
Church Road’s Pinot Gris can be a real surprise packet and this is good in its mode. Viscous and luscious style with a real stonefruit lusciousness. Fleshy, ripe and almost oily in its concentrated fruit, the acid low, but the flavour is there and the fragrance high. Perhaps too thick but lovely width. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $25.99. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Pizzini Pinot Grigio 2018
This is exactly what you want in a circa $20 Pinot Grigio. Crunchy celery and white flower style that is pure and fresh with such a tang. It’s perhaps too crunchy, too lean, but nails the classic Pinot Grigio style. Entirely drinkable. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.1%, $21. Would I buy it? Yes.
Pike & Joyce Pinot Gris 2018
Lenswood Pinot Gris that sits on the fence behind Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. Lightly floral, with a reductive nose that doesn’t show much. But there is pear juice below the surface. Taut palate with understated pear juice that teeters on the edge of perfect ripeness (for a Grigio). But a more traditional Pinot Gris it is not. Still a solid drink, if a bit too neutral. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.5%, $26. Would I buy it? A glass.
Tahbilk Pinot Gris 2018
Surprisingly opulent Pinot Gris that is surprisingly well balanced. Stonefruit aplenty here, in a mode that is Gris not Grigio. Viscous and ripe with a little warmth to finish, it tends a little broad, but has presence of flavour. Good. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $21.50. Would I buy it? A glass.