Look at any good wine list these days and you’re bound to see either a Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio on there. After a slow start on the Australian wine scene (because people didn’t know what it was), Pinot Gs are now enjoying an upswing in popularity. And not only that, but they’re being taken seriously by winemakers, wine lovers and wine critics alike.
Pinot G vines were brought to Australia (to the Hunter Valley, in fact) in 1832 as Pineau Gris from the Cote-d’Or by the father of Australian viticulture, James Busby. But the grapes would have to wait over a century and a half before they became popular…
We have Kathleen Quealy – now crowned Queen of Pinot Grigio – to thank for that. With her husband Kevin McCarthy, she brought Pinot G to the wider Aussie wine world in the 1990s, spearheading the drive to it becoming one of Australia’s most popular whites.
So… Gris or Grigio?
Technically speaking, as far as the actual grape goes, there is no difference. They are the exact same grape – they just have different names! So the differences then must come down to style.
You had me at Grigio…
The word Grigio is Italian for "grey". It should be picked early and made into a crisp, light, zesty, minerally style ideal for early drinking, and is most famously known in the regions of Veneto and Friuli.
Bonjour! Is it Gris you’re looking for?
Gris is French for "grey" and in France it finds its home in the Alsace region. Pinot Gris should be picked later and riper, and is known for being more luscious, textured, complex, and silky.
Sometimes it isn’t that simple, and in Australia winemakers have basically free reign to create hugely different styles from the Pinot G grapes – and call them whatever they want. There are no rules! But on the whole, if you follow what we’ve said above (and check out the tasting notes on the wine’s label) you’ll be able to look for a delicious white with confidence.
Top tip: These wines pair beautifully with fresh food. Think crisp, crunchy salads, catch of the day seafood and shellfish, or succulent BBQ chicken or pork.