Grown on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, Pinot Gris has an interesting history, even though it was only first planted in these southern isles in the early 1990’s.
Pinot Gris is a rich and refreshing wine, with vintages from the warmer North Island being more light-bodied and fruit-driven, than those from the South Island.
This wine actually dates back from the early 1300’s in the Burgundy region of France and it thought to have been lost due to a Phylloxera infestation during the 1800’s. Grafted vines were unsuccessful for quite some time, but they eventually began to regrow in Italy and Germany and once again became popular wines in Europe.
An interesting fact about Pinot Gris is that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc have been shown through DNA analysis, to be different varieties of the same vine. So what we have is that Pinot Noir produces red wines, Pinot Blanc produces white wines, whilst Pinot Gris is a red grape that produces a white wine.
The resurgence of Pinot Gris in New Zealand
Once the Pinot Gris grapes became successful again in Europe, they were eventually brought to New Zealand, but didn’t gain a real foothold in the market there – mainly due to a lack of interest in a food and wine culture. It did however grow well, because Pinot Gris likes a cool climate as it is an early maturing grape, tending to high sugar levels. Slowly, as New Zealanders’ started to travel the world, they became more used to the European love of wine and over the years, they have started to embrace food and wine within their own culture.
Since the 1990’s Pinot Gris has developed a boutique following in New Zealand and whilst Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir far surpass the production of Pinot Gris in New Zealand, there is a growing love for this perky wine and it has actually overtaken Riesling in the production stakes.
The amount of Pinot Gris harvested has massively increased since the early days in the 90’s and is mainly grown in the South Island around Central Otego, Canterbury, Waipara, Marlborough and Nelson. It is also however, grown in some areas on the North Island, for example Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.
Pinot Gris pairs perfectly with roast pork and apple sauce, so it is a wonderful wine for your Christmas Day lunch. It also goes really well with seafood, poultry, and creamy garlicy pastas, so will be awesome with your shrimp BBQ on Boxing Day or your leftover pasta dishes after the holidays.
What can you expect from a Pinot Gris wine?
These wines have a very fruity flavour – think of berries, limes, lemons, and pears with an almond, honeysuckle or spicy aroma. The actual taste and aroma depends on the origin of your Pinot Gris, so from New Zealand you can expect honeysuckle, pear, and spicy flavours and aromas.
So why not try something different and explore a classic Pinot Gris from New Zealand? Find out why the Kiwis love this demure little wine.