The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2011

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VARIETALLY CORRECT PHOTO JOEL R. GAFF, JR. Shades of Gris P inot Gris normally has grayish-blue fruit much lighter in hue than its purple cousin Pinot Noir (gris meaning "gray" in French). But Gris can also be brownish pink, black or even white. Pinot Gris has a remarkably similar DNA profi le to Pinot Noir; the color difference derives from a genetic mutation that occurred centuries ago. In fact, leaves and vines are so alike that coloration is often the only thing that tells them apart. Pinot Gris grows best in cool climates and matures relatively early with high sugar levels. This can lead to either a sweet wine or, if fermented to dryness, one high in alcohol. It can be bottled and out on the market within 4 to 12 weeks after fermentation, and the wines often vary greatly in style, smell and fl avor. German versions, often grown on slate, are full-bodied with balanced acidity and a slight sweetness. Alsace's cool climate and warm volcanic soils mean a medium-to-full body with a rich, somewhat fl oral bouquet. Oregon's Pinot Gris is medium-bodied with a yellow to copper-pink color and aromas of pear, apple, and melon. In California Pinot Gris can be light and crisp, whereas Italy's Pinot Grigios are generally light-bodied but lean, with crisp, sometimes acidic fl avors. While the grape's origins go back to at least the 13th century, the popularity of Pinot Gris grew markedly in the mid-1990s, when well-capitalized, large producers entered the picture with enough volume to warrant expensive marketing cam- paigns. As a result, Pinot Gris has fi nally taken its rightful place in the market next to other iconic, noble white wine varietals such as Chardonnay and Riesling. Here's a look at several very different Pinot Gris producers and their approach to this now ubiquitous grape. Cristina Mariani-May with the Pinot Grigio from Banfi 's San Angelo vineyard in Montalcino. october 201 1 / the tasting panel / 85 GOOD-NATURED PINOT GRIS THRIVES ALL OVER THE WORLD by Ben Weinberg PHOTO COURTESY OF BANFI VINTNERS

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