Pinot gris perfection

Pinot gris grapes (Photo: Bob Campbell MW)

I have an undeserved reputation for being anti-pinot gris, possibly because I made a few disparaging remarks about the category some time ago. I recently tasted 60 examples of New Zealand pinot gris and have to say that the standard has risen markedly in the past few years.

Pinot gris is typically light in flavour thanks, at least in part, to over-cropping. Winemakers often build more flavour by giving the wine some skin contact, although the downside of this practice is that it extracts tannins, which can make the wine coarse or even slightly bitter. That problem can be remedied to some extent by leaving a little residual sugar in the wine to help mask the tannins.

I’m happy to say that pinot gris in this country now drier, softer and with more ethereal textures than ever before. It is simply better.

Here are the two top wines from my tasting. Both are dry, or at least dry-ish, with good flavour intensity and reasonably silken textures.

The 2016 Seresin Pinot Gris from Marlborough is the “price friendliest” of the trio. It has clearly been made with a very light touch and offers excellent value at this price. It’s an organic pinot gris, although it is hard to say whether that contributed towards the wine’s obvious quality. (NZD $24)

The 2016 Nautilus Pinot Gris also from Marlborough is another dry wine that achieves a perfect compromise between flavour intensity and an ethereal texture. It’s the sort of wine that could encourage a pinot gris hater to jump the fence. (NZD $29.95)

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