Pinot Grigio is a dry and refreshing white wine which is undoubtedly a marvellous drink to consume on a hot and sticky summer afternoon. Pinot Grigio packs a zingy acidic punch which balances exceptionally well with the lime, green apple, honeysuckle and lemon flavours, making it a top contender in the Best White Wine list.
Although it is a common belief that Pinot Grigio originated in Italy, it was actually conceived in France, where it is known by the name Pinot Gris. A cousin of the red grape Pinot Noir, the unique feature of this grape is that it does not have a green-coloured skin like other white grape varieties; instead its skin is of a bluish grey hue. Hence, this distinctly hued grape has always been a wondrous grape variety, and can be used to craft Pinot Grigio wines of 3 different styles – Minerally and dry, fruity and dry, and fruity and sweet.
Minerally and Dry Pinot Grigio
Dry and minerally Pinot Grigio wines are usually crafted in cool climate regions, such as the northern parts of Italy as well as all the way from the foothills of the Alps to Romania and Hungary. The mountain ranges provide the ideal conditions for the fruit to develop high acidic characters. Matured in stainless steel tanks and totally free of oak aging or malolactic fermentation, these wines generally show lower alcohol levels, somewhere between 10 to 12.5% ABV. Wines manufactured in this style often portray a saline quality, and are loved for their simplicity, acidity and faded fruit flavours. Extremely dry Pinot Grigio wines match well with french fries or mussels on hot and sweaty summer days.
Fruity and Dry Pinot Gris
The term Pinot Gris is used by winemakers to describe the fruit-driven styles of this variety, while Pinot Grigio mostly denotes a dry and acidic style. New World wine regions like Australia, Chile, Oregon, Washington and New Zealand are all invested in crafting this style of Pinot Grigio, producing and fermenting them in stainless steel tanks, aging them on lees and subjecting them to a little amount of malolactic fermentation. Vibrant characters of lemon, white peach and yellow apple are apparent on the bouquet and palate, with an oily texture and light acidity providing a rich and flavoursome mouthfeel.
Fruity and Sweet Pinot Gris
This sweeter-styled wine is probably crafted in a single place in the world – Alsace, France. Winemakers in Alsace had been attempting to recreate the exceptionally sweet Tokaji wine, until they perfected the craft of producing this sweet and fruit-driven Pinot Grigio. Flavours of honeycomb, honey crisp apples and sweet lemon candy are abundant in this wine, with an elegant texture and ripe elements adding to the richness of this wine.
Bonus – Ramato
Ramato is a unique Rose style of Pinot Grigio, in which the light purple hue of the grapes imparts a pale copper colour to the wine. The juice is macerated in the skins, imparting smooth tannins to the wine. Nuances of leather, white raspberry and sour cherry lead to a meaty or dried cranberry finale.
All of these Pinot Grigio wines are available easily in Australian wine stores.