Top 10 Tasting – Pinot Gris

Top 10 Tasting Pinot Gris

Finally made it to our first big Varietal tasting of the year. Tasted on Saturday Feb 1st, a warm summer day.

We had a great session – Pinot Gris is really coming of age in New Zealand. There were hardly any ‘flabby, soulless’ types on show this time – instead we got plenty of wines with character, individuality, texture and flavour aplenty. Pinot Gris is sometimes described as having the body of a Chardonnay, with the spiciness of a Gewurtztraminer. Both of those characteristics were found in many of the wines – certainly our Top 10 list (see below) had notes that featured these descriptors more than once.

Tasting across a range of styles and price points – with all of New Zealand major wine regions featured; what is also clear is that this a grape variety that does well in New Zealand. Yes, you can point to differences coming through from the various terroir and regionalities, but the best wines we tasted here come from all across the country.

Wines were tasted and scored blind. Revealed and discussed at the conclusion.

Winner: Soljans Estate Kumeu Pinot Gris 2018​

Soljans Estate Pinot Gris

Not many choices for Auckland-grown Pinot Gris, this was a crowd favourite for all tasting this. Aromas of fresh Nashi pear and crisp apples, with a palate that heads down a baking spice, ginger and tropical fruit path. A lovely balance of a driving acidity, but with layers of juicy pineapple and baked peach crumble.

An almost Champagne-like biscuitiness was noted by a couple of the judges. In a dry style, but not without a lovely weight, texture and sweetness from the fruit, although not high on residual sugars. A sweet and delicate finish that lingers on and on. Something for everyone, and a great buy at RRP of $20.

#2: Mills Reef Reserve Pinot Gris 2019​

A Hawke’s Bay wine, with a bright, sparkling golden hue. Hugely aromatic – bursting with white stonefruit, honeysuckle and ginger on the nose. A plush palate of grilled pear, melon and a hint of stony salinity is interwoven with with a delicious lemony acidity

Some savoury elements of warm stables and bay leaf are balanced by a sweetness and waxy texture arriving late in the piece. Tasters considered this distinctly varietal – unmistakenly Pinot Gris – the lasting finish is pure honey, pear and spice. RRP $25.

Mills Reef Pinot Gris

#3: Framingham Estate Pinot Gris 2018​

Framingham Pinot Gris

Number three came from Marlborough, and a winery with pedigree in aromatics. Rich, lemon yellow in the glass; and big on the nose with ripe comice pear and lifted white florals.

A full textured and big bodied wine, characterised with a whole sweet shop of candied fruits, pear drops and crystallised ginger. A sweet, spiced layer of apple strudel and a lengthy textured finish, leaves you wanting another. RRP $25

#4: Esk Valley Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2019

With fruit from two vineyards, including the famed Keltern Vineyard, Gordon Russell makes this unique style of Pinot Gris his way – delicious!

A nose of elderflower, peach and honey, drives you into a palate that sings in a textural harmony of butterscotch, brioche and syrupy tinned pears. Lifted along with a fine acid linearity, this never cloys, and ends in silky, mouthwatering style. RRP $20

#5: Mt Riley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018​

Mt Riley Pinot Gris

A very clever wine for the money. An elegant but sweet aroma of warm grass, nectarine and caramel.

Classic flavours of pear meets ginger, and a satisfying depth of tarte tatin and vanilla custard. Good mouthfeel and a crisp, fresh acidity keeps this in line. RRP $15

#6: The Crater Rim From the Ashes Waipara Pinot Gris 2019​

From Waipara, comes this superb example of the variety. Textbook balance, sweetness, texture, flavours (honey, pear, baking spices, orange peel) and acidity. Ripe, rich, succulent and with a weighty, lingering finish. RRP $15

#7: Bilancia Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2018​

Elegantly floral nose, with ripe, luscious flavours of peach, pear and honeyed brioche. Gorgeous rounded texture and a balanced acidity; but above all, taut and concentrated. Great depth and flavour in a long finish. RRP $25

#8: Te Kano Central Otago Pinot Gris 2018

Elegantly floral nose, with ripe, luscious flavours of peach, pear and honeyed brioche. Gorgeous rounded texture and a balanced acidity; but above all, taut and concentrated. Great depth and flavour in a long finish. RRP $25

#9: Mission Estate Marlborough Pinot Gris 2019​

Our oldest winery, brings a fresh, clean off-dry style of wine from the Awatere Valley. A nice palate weight, slightly creamy texture, with rich pure pear and tropical fruit flavour – intense but refined and structured. RRP $18

#10: Neudorf Pinot Gris 2017

From Moutere – a dry style, yet still with the lush weight and depth of fruit that Pinot Gris needs to shine. Crisp pear meets roast cashew; a biscuity edge, and a loamy, mineral undercurrent. Enough citrus acidity to flow right through to a silky finish. RRP $29

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