AUSTRALIAN PINOT GRIS AND PINOT GRIGIO
Are Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio Australian? While these styles of wine are very popular in Australia now, they did not originate here. The variety is a white mutation of the Pinot Noir grape, which came from Burgundy, but the spiritual home of Pinot Gris is north-eastern France’s Alsace region, with Pinot Grigio’s being northern Italy.
Plantings of Pinot Gris began in Australia in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 2000 that production increased to significant levels and it has only really become popular in the last decade. While these wines are relative newcomers to the Australian wine scene, they have been embraced by sommeliers who find them food friendly.
WHAT IS PINOT GRIS / GRIGIO?
Grigio and Gris both mean ‘grey’, but in different languages because Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape variety, just grown and celebrated in different areas of Europe. Grigio, as the name suggests, is the Italian version, grown predominantly in the regions of Fruili, Veneto and Alto Adige. It is generally picked early and produces a fresh, zesty style with some savoury characters. Gris is the French style, cultivated mainly in the region of Alsace. Its general characteristics are of a rich, full-bodied wine with plump stonefruit flavours, some spice and a smooth, silky texture.
In Australia, we tend to just call it Pinot G and move between the different styles easily and often.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PINOT GRIS AND PINOT GRIGIO?
Is Pinot Gris the same as Pinot Grigio? To put it simply, they are both made from the same grape variety, but are crafted to produce two different styles. The grape variety is a member of the Pinot Noir family and has two different names thanks to the two countries in which it is most commonly grown: France and Italy. Across the two styles, the common aroma and flavour descriptors include apple, pear, strawberry, honey, brioche and nuts.
Learn more about the difference between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris.
BEST AUSTRALIAN PINOT GRIS AND PINOT GRIGIO WINE
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Australian wine regions producing great Pinot G. Its popularity and food friendly nature has seen the mouth-watering varietal thrive and become readily available in a number of regions.
WHAT REGION IN AUSTRALIA MAKES THE BEST PINOT G?
In Australia, the cool climate regions of Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, Orange, King Valley and Great Southern produce the best Pinot Gris and Grigio. They have the ideal conditions to produce high quality fruit and that allow winemakers to experiment with styles.
Tasmanian Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio
The cool climate of Tasmania has an affinity with Alsatian whites and looks to have a promising future with both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio.
Another standout Aussie Pinot G region is Adelaide Hills where the cool evenings promote great acid retention in the fruit, along with a gradual flavour ripeness without excess phenolic development. This allows the variety to retain a charming aromatic lift, which combines beautifully with the subtle textural elements.
Victoria has emerged as an epicentre for the variety. The King Valley with its cool, alpine climate and Italian community is producing some excellent Pinot Grigios. It is a melting pot for Mediterranean varieties due to its climatic similarity to Italy and Spain making it a top location to grow premium Pinot G. There are also some great examples coming from the Yarra Valley and Grampians.
Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris and Grigio
The Mornington Peninsula has long been the leader in Australian Pinot G, setting the trend here, with T’Gallant in particular championing the grape making wines in both styles. Mornington Peninsula's superior suitability for Pinot G is down to a combination of regional factors. It is the climate - cool, maritime, Indian summers. It is the cloud cover and sea breezes. The Red Hill and Main Ridge flank creates intimate valleys of rich volcanic soils that hold onto the rainfall. The dryland farming keeps each berry and bunch tiny and concentrated.
Located in the New South Wales Central Ranges, the Orange wine region has the perfect cool climate and soil types to produce outstanding Pinot G expressions. Orange is the highest wine region in Australia and ranks among some of the highest in the world. Winemakers have the luxury of cool weather to retain delicate flavours and enough sunlight to achieve ripening.
WHICH ARE THE BEST PINOT GRIS AND PINOT GRIGIO WINE BRANDS IN AUSTRALIA?
With its popularity soaring, and our wonderful climate in which to enjoy it, Australian Pinot Gris and Australian Pinot Grigio are readily available with plenty of choice for wine lovers. From big brands to smaller boutique producers, mouth-watering examples are being produced across our regions.
There is a multitude of quality brands worth sampling. Consider Sam Miranda, Christmont, Wicks Estate, and Pizzini as a good place to start.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PINOT G
Which is sweeter, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris?
Pinot G typically has a light and dry flavour profile, so neither is particularly sweet. However, due to its zesty, vibrant characteristics and high acidity, Pinot Grigio may seem less sweet than Pinot Gris which is typically richer and more full-bodied.
What does Pinot Gris taste like?
Distinguishing features of both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio include stonefruit and nectarine aromas and flavours along with honey and hay characters. Pinot Gris is typically picked later and riper, and is rich, spicy and full-bodied, with a rounded, glossy texture. Pinot Gris will often have high sugar content with low acidity that will regularly produce wines with complexity, displaying pear, spiced apple and stone fruit characters. Pinot Gris is sometimes made with oak and has the ability to develop into richly textured wines.
Does Pinot Gris need to be chilled?
As white styles, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are best served chilled and go down a treat on a hot summer’s day.
Tip - in Australia, we do tend to serve our white wines too cold, so a great tip is to take it out of the fridge and let it breathe for a little while before serving so the flavours can really open up.
What is the best age for Pinot Gris?
Both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are super food-friendly wines that are made to be enjoyed immediately. However, Pinot G has decent longevity compared to some white wines, and in many cases can be cellared for up to 5 years.