Pinot Gris(April 2019)
Sauvignon Blanc can be exceptionally fragrant in New Zealand’s cool climate regions, but when Kiwi wine lovers mention “aromatic” white-wine varieties, they are usually referring to Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris. There is no doubt which of the famous trio they prefer to drink. In the 2018 vintage, for every tonne of Gewürztraminer grapes picked in New Zealand, viticulturists harvested six tonnes of Riesling and 23 tonnes of Pinot Gris.
Exports are booming, too. Our third most exported wine by variety, Pinot Gris ranks well behind Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, but far ahead of Chardonnay. A decade ago, we exported more than twice as much Chardonnay as Pinot Gris, but today, Chardonnay shipments are barely half those of Pinot Gris.
The wide appeal of Pinot Gris is easy to understand. Less pungent than Sauvignon Blanc, it is a versatile variety, coupling some of the weight and roundness of Chardonnay with the aromatic spiciness of Gewürztraminer. Over half of the entries in this month’s Pinot Gris feature were grown in Marlborough, but the tasting also attracted significant numbers from Otago and Hawke’s Bay.