04/04/07 – Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

By Jesse on April 4, 2007


The official tournament may be over, but in our quest to examine the six of the most important and prominent grapes, we inevitably ignored a number of very significant ones, and over the next few weeks we’ll be returning to those.  Due to the popularity of the “blind bottle” concept, we’ll similarly be putting one bottle aside and attempting to guess region at the end of the meeting.  This won’t be for points, but the level of short-term bragging rights you’ll enjoy simply cannot be overstated.

Like Syrah / Shiraz, this week we examine one grape that goes by two names depending on where it’s grown.  An ancient genetic mutation of Pinot Noir, the grape we’ll be tasting is Gray Pinot, so called because of its ambiguous pigmentation while still on the vine, and referred to around the world by two names (Pinot Gris is the French, and Pinot Grigio is the Italian, but both are known worldwide).  In Germany, it’s known as Rulander… anyone who brings a German one gets huge props.

Pinot Grigio is grown all over Italy; some of the best examples come from the Tre Venezie.  In France, Pinot Gris does well in Alsace.  The grape makes some of the most full-bodied whites that Germany has to offer, especially when compared to the light, crisp Riesling and Gewurztraminer that we’ve encountered.  And in Oregon, the grape has really blown up and made a name for itself.  As of the publication of my Bible in 2001, Chardonnay was the most widely planted white grape.  Now, according to this website, the most widely planted white is Pinot Gris — incidentally, the white grape that the Bible says is Oregon’s finest.  Pinot Gris is also grown in California, and those who were on the Santa Barbara trip may recall tasting one at Epiphany that was awesome (in fact, I may be bringing it…. I’ll have to do some soul-searching first).

In honor of the beginning of baseball season, here’s a curveball: you can alternatively bring a bottle of Pinot Blanc, a less common cousin of Pinot Gris, for comparison purposes.  Hopefully we’ll get a few of those as well.

We’ll be meeting at Emily’s place in Hollywood.  The light, crisp nature of Pinot Gris simply demands that it be chilled, so make sure your wine arrives at an appropriate temperature.  We’ll see you crazy lushes on Wednesday at 9pm!