Pinot Gris/Grigio (PEE-noh gree/GREE-jee-oh) While Pinot Grigio is in fact the same grape as Pinot Gris (just the Italian take on it), the differences of wine they create can be immense. Pinot Gris' most popular and successful region is Alsace, France, an area of the country that actually puts the name of the grape on the label. Pinot Grigio is the Italian version of the grape, known for its light, crisp acidity. But wines from other regions usually term their wine Pinot Gris or Grigio based on the wine's flavor profile.
Notable Facts Pinot Gris from Alsace creates rich, stone fruit-laden wines. They are perfumed and aromatic, and typically dry. It has round body and medium acidity. Take the grape a bit south to Italy, and it creates a very crisp, high-acid, citrus noted wine. Both are flavorful, but wine named Pinot Gris typically provides more body and rounder fruits while Pinot Grigio gives lighter-bodied, citrus fruits. Oregon and California are also growing the grape, Oregon having success with a more Alsacian style and California producing both. Winemakers often call the wine by the style they wish to replicate - for Italian style, look for Pinot Grigio, for the Alsacian style, look for Pinot Gris. In Alsace, Pinot Gris can also makes wine with some residual sugar. It's capable of creating delicious dessert wines in the region.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Alsace, Italy, Oregon, California
Common Descriptors: peach, pear, floral, citrus
Learn More About Alsace, France
Seventy miles long and two miles wide, Alsace is a beautiful, picturesque region situated along the border of France and Germany, nestled between the Voges Mountains and the Rhine River. These landmarks give Alsace an ideal climate for the white grapes that have become the mainstays of the region. Pinot Noir is also grown, with plantings of the grape increasing with consumer demand for red wine.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Alsace underwent a territorial tug-of-war, bouncing from France to Germany and back to France again at the end of the first World War. While the French led the renaissance of fine wine production in the 20th century, Alsacians have integrated both French and German influences in their wine. Alsacian wines are mostly white, with Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer leading the plantings. Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Sylvaner are also popular varietals. The bottles are flute-shaped, like many German wines, and the type of grape is clearly placed on the wine's label – quite unlike the typical French practice of labeling wines by region.
Alsace wines have four noble varieties: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. These are the only varietals allowed in the 50 Alsacian Grand Cru wines. Pinot Blanc, while not noble, is key in making many of the Cremant d'Alsace (sparkling wines) and is found in many Alsace AC blends. Most of the wines from the region are dry – with steely acidity and round fruit flavors, typically more full bodied (aka, more alcohol) than their German counterparts. There are also sweet wines and, of course, sparkling.