Pinot gris and pinot grigio

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Pinot gris and pinot grigio (let’s call them PG for short – and not Pig, like some detractors do) are johnny-come-latelies in Australia and New Zealand, and while there were few examples to get excited about in the early days, I’m finding more and more very good wines lately.

Whenever I’ve done a PG tasting in the last two years, I’ve found a handful of excellent wines that I really want to drink. They’re a far cry from what Mornington Peninsula veteran Brian Stonier used to disparage – with good reason – as ‘dishwater’.

There are 75 new reviews, mostly 2012s. Outstanding examples came from Curly Flat (tasting), Casa Freschi (tasting), Ocean Eight (tasting), Foxeys Hangout (tasting), Leura Park Estate (tasting), Pike & Joyce (tasting) and Scorpo (tasting).

The best wines tend to be a little ‘worked’, rather like chardonnay, with a proportion of barrel fermentation, solidsy juice and lees-contact adding extra layers of character. There’s no point doing this with wishy-washy grapes, like the vast majority of gris, though: it has to be superior quality fruit with good concentration.

All of these wines – and more – have that. While I still find most New Zealand gris too sweet, there are some absolute stunners from across the ditch in this latest crop, with absolute blinders from Ostler (tasting; in the Waitaki Valley north of Central Otago) and old faithful, Ata Rangi (tasting).

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