Pinot Grigio (Gris) Wine Guide
Pinot Gris (Grigio) is a noble vine born centuries ago from a rib of Pinot Noir, one of the many and precious mutations that the king of French vines magnanimously gave us. But with this, we do not want to diminish the Pinot Gris which gives us (so to speak …) one of the most fascinating, complex and evocative wines of all.
Before going into this journey it is good to specify that there is an abysmal dichotomy on Pinot Gris, we are talking about a real doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome. They are two worlds apart. On the one hand, the classic white “vinification” gives golden, fragrant, slightly smoky wines, stylistically opulent, even if we do not reach the aromatic power of Gewurztraminer. And so far so good, we all know them: ranging from the great Pinot Gris of Alsace to the persuasive rich and sumptuous whites of Friuli, passing through the splendid savory specimens of Trentino Alto Adige.
On the other hand, some wines have had a longer maceration and so they are no longer golden, but orange with a tendency to rosé, they are part of the infamous band of orange wines, ruder, balsamic bad boys, which have a tannic thickness that pushes towards the field of reds and at the same time the pulp and acidity become sharper. If you want to get an idea of the color of these wines, look at a ripe bunch of Pinot Grigio and you will have an excellent term for comparison: after all, the name of the grape itself is quite significant …
Organoleptic characteristics of Pinot Grigio
With this we do not mean that orange is the new black, we are not expressing here a judgment on which nature of Pinot Gris is to be preferred: everyone tastes and makes their considerations. Pinot Grigio is that classic wine that manages to develop unique tertiary, mature and complex aromas over the years, a real kaleidoscope both vinified in white and left to macerate in amphora (if you do not have an amphora today you are nobody …)
The bouquet of Pinot Grigio is broad, elegant, varied, not quite fine or subtle, but not as brash and overbearing as an aromatic wine. The typical aromas are fruity with apricot, peach, citrus, ginger, then flowers such as jasmine, hazelnuts, acacia, honey, beeswax, cinnamon, marzipan, mint, rocks and smoky memories, a clear heritage of Pinot Noir. evolution in the bottle the tones become more ethereal, mature, caramelized, especially if it is a passito wine.
If you smell a macerate, the story changes Mediterranean scrub, pine, eucalyptus, mineral notes, licorice, fruit and flowers, it is full of balsamic, spicy notes like incense. Another world.
On the palate, it is a rich and pungent wine, but with a certain warmth. The structure is vigorous, always in tension between acidity and flavor. The finish is long with honey, dried fruit and smoky traits.
The legendary history of Pinot Gris
Around the middle of the 1500s, Baron Lazarus von Schwendi in the service of the Holy Roman Empire took part in the war against the Turks in Hungary. And to recover from the fatigue of the battles he used to indulge in a few chalices of Tokaji, so he thought it best to bring back some Furmint cuttings home and had them planted in his possessions. Too bad (or fortunately?) That it was not Furmint, but Pinot Grigio and precisely for this reason, over the years it was first called Grauer Tokayer, Tokay Grigio, Tokay di Alsazia, Tokay Pinot Grigio and only in 2007 did the ordeal and the official name Pinot Gris was recognized.
Pinot Gris in Alsace
We have the classic AOC for dry wines and then two categories for sweet wines. Vendanges tardives, that is late harvests, which characterize delicious sweet wines, born from clusters that have undergone withering on the plant and on which noble rot has developed. And we end up with the superior category sélection de grains nobles, that is the most precious and opulent sweet wines, produced with bunches harvested almost grape by grape, according to a ruthless selection of grapes.
Pinot Gris food pairings
Let’s not forget that it is a structured and complex white wine, full of aromas and aromatic volume, so let’s combine it with substantial and fatty fish dishes such as chowder, fish soup, white meats and cured meats and omelets. Also, try it with truffle-based pasta dishes.