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New World: Pinot Gris

The Kiwis, with their Gris styles, are starting to make this category their own. And with two Golds, this year they even outperformed Alsace

Tha knows what, lad? I can remember back way in t’ mists of time, when this category were made up of wines from all ower. Aye, tha can laugh, but it’s true; there were Kiwis and Saffers and Aussies and Chileans all in one big happy Pinot Gris family. Now look at it… and they call that progress?

Actually, yes they do. It’s true that this grape variety is becoming ever more the domain of the Kiwis (the Bronze for Australia’s Paracombe Wines is the only non-New Zealand medal of the past two years), but it’s perhaps no coincidence that this growing presence has also seen places on the Gold List handed out on a more regular basis.

Last year we saw one (for the Yealands Estate); this year there were two, from opposite sides of the Cook Strait and at opposite ends of the price spectrum.

The Ara, from Marlborough, was a well-priced lush-but-zesty number at a handy ‘Pinot Grigio trade-up’ kind of price. It would work with food or by the glass. Meanwhile, the Ata Rangi from the Martinborough-based Pinot Noir gods was a complex, textured food matcher that nodded briefly towards Alsace but had a freshness and balance that were pure New Zealand.

All in all, they made a good pairing for our Gold List, particularly given the lack of anything of comparable quality from Alsace.

‘There needs to be more than one Pinot Grigio on the list,’ said Grace Matterson from Rockliffe Hall. ‘A lot of Italians are light in style, but it’s good to have a selection of different styles, including Pinot Gris, from Old and New World, so that people can explore.’

 ‘The quality of the wine is most important if you want to encourage people to spend up on Pinot Grigio/Gris.’
Gergely Barsi Szabó, Bread Street Kitchen

‘The Gris that picked up medals are very enjoyable wines with good texture and balance, offering that bit more if people trade up a few pounds.’
Grace Matterson, Rockliffe Hall