Sample Class exclusively for The Fifty Best: Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio - Full Lesson and Video
Pinot Grigio grapes
The Grape and Wine
Originating in the Burgundy area of France in the 12th century, Pinot Gris then spread east to Germany and Hungary. From there, it was carried back to Alsace, Italy, and much later to Australia and New Zealand, where it has become the third most planted grape.
A clone of the easily mutating Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris grapes vary in color from greenish-white, to grey-blue (thus the French gris or grey), to pinkish-brown and even straw. In Italy it is known as Pinot Grigio. Pinot Gris is different from Pinot Blanc, which is another clone of Pinot Noir.
Depending on where it is grown, the wine will show pear, apple, and/or melon aromas. Pinot Gris from California can be crisp and refreshing with some peppery notes. Pinot Grigio from Italy is straw colored and light-bodied, with crisp acidity, and it sometimes has a bit of spritz.
Pinot Grigio vineyards
Most Important Growing Areas
France – Pinot Gris thrives in the cool climate of Alsace, where the grapes get to stay on the vine, thereby concentrating flavors as it slowly ripens in the volcanic soils. Here, the wines may be dry or sweet. The French versions are quite different from those made in Italy or Oregon; they have rich, assertive flavors, often of ripe peach and ginger, and floral bouquets, often with a hint of spice. Along with Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat, Pinot Gris is one of the four grapes that are allowed in Alsace Grand Cru AOC, where it is the second most planted grape variety. Alsace is the only region in France where, with a few exceptions, wines are labeled by grape variety.
Italy- In Italy, where the grape is known as Pinot Grigio, prime growing areas include Trentino and Alto Adige in the far north. It is prominent as well in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and the Lombardy region around Oltrepo Pavese. Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied, somewhat delicate wine that is light in color and sometimes shows crisp acidity. It does not usually reach the fullness or richness of a French Pinot Gris. Unfortunately, there is a lot of mediocre Pinot Grigio being made, and much of it arrives in the U.S.
U.S. - In the United States, Italian Pinot Grigio wines began to grow in popularity in the 1980s, largely due to the efforts of importer Anthony Terlato, of Terlato Imports, who discovered Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio on a buying trip to Alto Adige and began to import it. Today, it is a huge commercial wine success story.
As for growing areas, Oregon stepped up to the Pinot Gris press, and in 1991 the King Estate Winery was founded with the mission to develop a sustainable national market for the wine by producing large quantities of good quality Oregon Pinot Gris. They were the pioneers who got Pinot Gris wine on the wine drinkers’ radar. Now, King Estate is the world's leading producer of premium Pinot Gris, and they farm the world's largest contiguous organic vineyard with over 300 acres of Pinot Gris grapes. Oregon Pinot Gris wines tend to be medium bodied, with a yellow to copper-pink color and aromas of pear, apple, or melon.
Eric Asimov, chief wine critic of the New York Times, writes about Pinot Gris from Oregon: “By Playing It Safe, Will They Be Sorry?” February 3, 2010. See article.
Video lesson on Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris
Click on screen to watch video.
Before you watch the video, be sure you have read the text lesson (above). If you want to taste along with Professor Newlin and the class, you may want to purchase the following (or similar) wines. If the specified vintages are no longer available, buy the current vintage.
If you can’t find a specific label or are not sure what to substitute, ask your friendly local wine shop for suggestions for comparable wines.
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Checklist
√ In French, pinot gris means "gray pinecone” √ In Italy, called Pinot Grigio √ It is a clone of Pinot Noir √ Grape color ranges from grayish blue to pinkish brown √ Wines range in color from deep gold to copper to light pinkish shade to pale straw √ Generally meant to be consumed young, but best wines have some ageing potential √ In the U.S., Pinot Grigio wines have achieved great popularity
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Fairleigh Dickinson University's International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has launched a new online wine course. This course was created, written and produced by Ron Kapon, wine writer and educator and teacher of the FDU classroom wine course for 16 years, and Pat Savoie, wine writer and educator. The course includes tasting videos by Philippe Newlin.
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Discovering the World of Wine tasting classes are accompanied by engaging videos, including: Chardonnay (Class 4) Riesling (Class 5) Sauvignon Blanc (Class 6) Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio (Class 7) Cabernet Sauvignon (Class 8) Merlot (Class 9) Pinot Noir (Class 10) Syrah (Class 11) Bordeaux (Class 12) Burgundy (Class 13) Champagne and Sparkling Wine (Class 14) Tuscany (Class 15)
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