|Pinot gris (or pinot grigio,
as it is known in Italy) probably is the best-known "white"
variant-clone of Pinot Noir. Ripe pinot gris grapes may
be described as having colors from bluish grey to light
pinkish brown. Clusters with a variety of colors are not
can attain a very high level of sweetness, but will
begin to lose acid rapidly when near to fully ripe.
Sometimes it is used to add richness and to lighten,
when blended with Pinot Noir.
Some pinot gris is grown in Burgundy,
where it may be called pinot beurot. Where planted in
Germany, it is known as ruländer. It is of little
commercial significance in either locale. Friuli, in
Italy, produces the largest quantity, but only two appellations
have Pinot Gris stars in the wine quality galaxy: Alsace,
France, the traditional base of Pinot Gris appreciation
and Oregon, the newest Pinot Gris area to come to light.
In Alsace, the pinot gris grape
is called tokay d'Alsace (no relation to the Hungarian
Tokay). The Alsatians value it as a full-bodied wine
that can stand up to food without introducing any flavors
of its own. In Italy, Pinot Grigio can be quite distinguished,
coming from some producers, especially in the Friuli
region, who devote attention to growing and vinifying.
Unfortunately for its reputation, there are many other
Italian Pinot Grigio makers that overcrop and harvest
early to produce crisp, but vapid wines.
There are winemakers in the United
States who are putting serious efforts into growing
and producing Pinot Gris. Nearly 1,620 acres are planted
in California, mostly in the Central and South coastal
areas. Both quality and sales have been erratic thus
far. Many Oregon wineries, on the other hand, have had
good success and are moving steadily away from making
Chardonnay while increasing production of Pinot Gris.
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio is
usually delicately fragrant and mildly floral with lightly
lemon-citrus flavors. Depending upon ripeness at harvest
and vinification technique, Pinot Gris can be tangy
and light, or quite rich, round and full bodied. Made
in an appropriate style, it is one dry white wine that
may even age well.