Drinks: Wines

Pinot Gris
The Gris-style, rather than Grigio-style, wines took the honours here, offering value for money and also an impressive food friendliness at a decent price

Given the lamentable showing by traditional Italian Pinot Grigio in the Varietal Classics section of this competition, where the only Gold, you might remember, went to a Chilean, it was both heartening and also not terribly surprising to see the grape doing so much better in the hands of New World winemakers.

In fact, on this evidence, if you’re looking to list this most commercially sellable
of grapes, it’s probably better to head outside Europe (and very definitely outside Italy)
to find the right one for you. You’ll be more likely to get value for money, drinkability
and also, crucially, food-friendliness.

The entries were all from Australia or New Zealand and there seemed to be a broad stylistic split between the two countries: a lighter, citrusy Grigio camp (mostly Australian) and a richer, more perfumed, sometimes off-dry Gris style from across the Tasman Sea.

The Pinot Grigio styles were less popular with the tasters, who mostly considered them simplistic and lacking in character – albeit still better than their Italian counterparts. But there was genuine enthusiasm for the fuller, more characterful, Gris-style wines, which were felt to be useful additions to the list.

‘The New World is better off making Gris styles because it suits the kind of wines
they most naturally make. There was some good value in the £8–10 range, which
had a similar level of quality to the wines priced at £11 and above,’ said Texture’s
Xavier Rousset MS.

The result? A workmanlike two Silvers and three Bronzes for the Kiwis’ Gris-style interpretations, and nothing for the Aussies.

“The intensity of some of the Gris-style wines was welcome and would work well on a list and with food. There were some attractive wines in this flight. ” Kelvin McCabe, Roka


Spinyback Pinot Gris 2009, Nelson, New Zealand
£8.18 @ Charles Hawkins & Partners
Leaning towards Alsace, this blends ripe pear and honey flavours following a perfumed, musky nose. ‘Very well made,’ said Xavier Rousset MS. ‘There’s a slight bitterness but it doesn’t dominate.’

Te Mara Pinot Gris 2009, Central Otago, New Zealand
£10.15 @ Walker & Wodehouse wines
Delightfully fruit-driven, with pear and tropical fruit on the nose followed by tinned fruit salad on a well-balanced, refreshing, light-to-medium palate. ‘Dry and full-bodied,’ said Roberto Loppi. ‘Very seductive, with a clean, crisp, moreish palate,’ added Mikaël Hannequin.


Yealands Estate Pinot Gris 2010, Marlborough, New Zealand
£8.08 @ Liberty Wines
A clean, spicy style, with great minerality and a creamy texture,’ said Kelvin McCabe. ‘Persistent fruit and hints of honey.’ ‘Quite summery,’ added Mikaël Hannequin.

Nautilus Pinot Gris 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand
£8.80 @ Negociants UK
Bruised apple and honeysuckle flavours run alongside a lovely seam of minerality. ‘Good level of fruit,’ commented Xavier Rousset MS.

Te Mara Pinot Gris 2008, Central Otago, New Zealand
£10.15 @ Walker & Wodehouse wines
Rich, with great texture. The subtle, spicy palate has a bit of residual sugar and shows bruised apple aromas alongside pleasant floral perfume.

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