The wines produced at Greywacke seem to be the leading edge of the next generation of New Zealand’s wines. These will present us with more risk taking, fewer commercial wines, and further exploration of the islands’ terroir. In the case of this Pinot Gris, what we seem to have is a wonderful expression of the style. The wine is just off dry, made with enough natural yeast and neutral wood fermentation to make for a compelling wine that marries style and soil. It could come to define New Zealand’s Pinot Gris, so catch a bottle while you can.
Lis Neris Pinot Grigio $24
Friuli has longed tried to be the true quality leader for Pinot Grigio in Italy, but circumstances have conspired against them. The grape is not as common here as in Trentino and the vineyards are decidedly more difficult to work, both aspects making the wines more expensive to produce. The only way to emerge from behind the shadows of their neighbors was for the region’s producers to stress quality. That they have done.
Lis Neris has settled on a strategy that seems to marry the richness and heft of Alsatian Pinot Gris with some of the classic mineral and citrus notes that we have come to expect from Pinot Grigio. It is an unusual style but one that further illustrates the range of the grape and the ability of Friuli to produce something unique and distinctive.
Paul Blanck Pinot Gris $24
All this talk of Alsatian Pinot Gris and nary an example to be found, until now. Paul Blanck can serve as a great introduction to Pinot Gris. They are affordable wines that give you a sampling of the floral and honey notes one can find in Alsace. Also, the wines are immediately accessible yet can stand a bit of age. Many argue that the true greatness of Pinot Gris comes with some age. Paul Blanck’s wines let you decide if that is the case with just a few years in the cellar, as opposed to the decade or more needed for some of the benchmark wines.
Boxler Brand Pinot Gris $55
Boxler’s wines are some of my favorites from Alsace. They tend to be on the dry side with clarity and balance that I am frequently wanting in many wines. Here with Pinot Gris, you find all the floral notes, mineral accents, suggestions of honeycomb and spice that you could ever expect from Pinot Gris, all served with richness and elegance. This is a bit unusual coming from Alsatian Pinot Gris, which tends to be fuller-bodied and spicier than Boxler’s Brand, but the exceptional terroir of the Brand Vineyard gives this wine its wonderful focus and penetrating minerality.
Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl $70
There are more expensive Pinot Gris wines on the market, particularly those made in late harvest styles, but I have yet to find one that is better than Clos Windsbuhl. This is a masterpiece of Alsatian Pinot Gris, combining all the richness of fruit, spice, honey and almond, topped with floral and mineral accents. This presents it all in a rich, oily wine laced with acidity and suggestion of bitter citrus oils. It comes together to create a wine that will wow even the most jaded palate. This is a wine that shows its best at about the 10 year mark, so be prepared to pay up for a mature bottle if you need to try this now. Otherwise, check out a mature 4-year-old bottle of the Paul Blanck to see if you should be laying some of this down!