Pinot plus

The coun­try’s 25 best pinot gris slip down eas­ily and are a good match for most dishes.

New Zealand Listener - - THIS LIFE -

Some wine lovers avoid pinot gris, criticising it as thin, lack­ing in flavour or too sweet. How­ever, New Zealand’s best pinot gris are full-bod­ied and fleshy, with rich, peachy, gen­tly spi­cy ­flavours, dry­ish and ­se­duc­tively smooth. They slip down eas­ily and many of us drink a lot of them.

Pop­u­lar in the French re­gion of Al­sace, Italy and Ger­many, pinot gris is now our third most widely planted white-wine va­ri­ety, trail­ing only sau­vi­gnon blanc and ­chardon­nay. Since 2000, the area of bear­ing vines has ex­ploded from 130ha to 2480ha, spread from ­North­land to Cen­tral Otago.

A ver­sa­tile wine, pinot gris matches many dishes – New Zealand ­Wine­grow­ers rec­om­mends roast pork, creamy pas­tas, poul­try or seafood.

Astro­labe Prov­ince Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016

Freshly scented, mouth­fill­ing (13% alc/ vol) and drier than most lo­cal pinot gris, this fra­grant regional blend has vi­brant, del­i­cate flavours of pears and ly­chees, a gen­tle spici­ness and a lengthy fin­ish. $23

Bell­bird Spring Waipara Val­ley Dry Pinot Gris 2016

Show­ing strong per­son­al­ity, this wine is al­ready ­drink­ing well. Fer­mented in old oak ­bar­rels, it is mouth­fill­ing (13.5% alc/vol) and fleshy, with con­cen­trated, peachy, slightly spicy and but­tery flavours, a slightly oily tex­ture and a rich, dry fin­ish. $32 Black­en­brook Nel­son Pinot Gris 2017 Es­tate-grown and hand-picked, this partly oak-aged wine is aro­matic and softly mouth­fill­ing (13.5% alc/vol), with richly va­ri­etal ly­chee, pear and spice flavours, show­ing ex­cel­lent vi­brancy, del­i­cacy and depth, and an off-dry fin­ish. $25 Bright­wa­ter Vine­yards Nel­son Pinot Gris 2016 This is a fleshy, Al­sace-style pinot gris, hand-picked at Hope. Full-bod­ied (13% alc/ vol), it is har­mo­nious, with peach, pear and ly­chee ­flavours, spicy notes, ­mod­er­ate acid­ity, a gen­tle splash of sweet­ness and a well-rounded, lin­ger­ing fin­ish. Fine value. $20

Brook­fields Robert­son Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2016

Made in the tra­di­tional style of Al­sace, this full-bod­ied wine (13% alc/vol) has strong, ripe peach, ly­chee and spice flavours, gen­tle sweet­ness and a rich, rounded fin­ish. $20 Car­rick Ban­nock­burn Cen­tral Otago Pinot Gris 2016 Cer­ti­fied or­ganic, this is a classy wine, es­tate-grown and mostly fer­mented and aged for six months in old French oak bar­rels. It is sturdy (14% alc/ vol), with rich, peachy, slightly spicy flavours, show­ing good com­plex­ity and a dry, well­rounded, per­sis­tent fin­ish. $27

Church Road McDon­ald Se­ries Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2016

Full of per­son­al­ity, this fleshy, sturdy wine (14.5% alc/vol) was fer­mented in old French oak vats. It is de­li­ciously con­cen­trated, oily tex­tured and well-rounded, with deep, ripe stone-fruit flavours, a vague hint of honey, gen­tle sweet­ness and ex­cel­lent rich­ness, com­plex­ity and ­har­mony. $27

Fram­ing­ham Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016

This weighty, gen­er­ous wine was hand-picked and fer­mented in tanks and old oak bar­rels. It is full-bod­ied (14% alc/vol) and vi­brantly fruity, with ripe stone-fruit flavours, ex­cel­lent depth and har­mony, a slightly oily tex­ture and an off-dry, smooth fin­ish. $25

Gibb­ston Val­ley GV Col­lec­tion Cen­tral Otago Pinot Gris 2016

A qui­etly classy, youth­ful wine that was hand-picked at Bendigo and Low­burn and made in a ro­bust (14.5% alc/ vol), ba­si­cally dry style. It has pure pear, ly­chee and peach flavours, show­ing ex­cel­lent del­i­cacy and depth, and a finely poised, long fin­ish. $28

Grey­stone Waipara Val­ley Pinot Gris 2016

This de­li­cious, partly bar­rel-fer­mented wine is richly

scented and full-bod­ied (13.5% alc/vol), with a sliver of ­sweet­ness, rich, ripe stone-fruit and spice flavours, show­ing good com­plex­ity, a slightly oily tex­ture and lovely ­har­mony and depth. $25

Hans Herzog Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016

Pre­pare for some­thing dif­fer­ent! This wine is apri­cot-coloured, from long skin con­tact with the juice. Mouth­fill­ing (14% alc/ vol), it is dry, with fresh, ­con­cen­trated peach, apri­cot and spice flavours, hints of water­melon and straw­berry, a gen­tle touch of tan­nin, an oily rich­ness and loads of per­son­al­ity. Cer­ti­fied or­ganic. $39 Hunter’s Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016 This la­bel is a con­sis­tently good buy. Mostly han­dled in tanks, but partly bar­rel-fer­mented, it is aro­matic and sturdy (14.5% alc/vol), with strong, peachy, spicy, vaguely hon­eyed flavours, a dry fin­ish and plenty of per­son­al­ity. $21

Mahi Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016

A fleshy, sin­gle-vine­yard wine that was hand-picked in the Awa­tere Val­ley and partly bar­rel-fer­mented. Mouth­fill­ing (14% alc/vol), with a touch of com­plex­ity, it is vi­brantly fruity, with gen­er­ous, ripe peach, pear and spice flavours, dry and smooth. $22

Misha’s Vine­yard Dress Cir­cle Cen­tral Otago Pinot Gris 2016

Es­tate-grown, hand-picked at Bendigo and han­dled in tanks and bar­rels, this is an off-dry style, ripely scented, fleshy and strongly va­ri­etal, with mouth­fill­ing body (14% alc/vol) and fresh, youth­ful peach, pear, ly­chee and spice flavours, show­ing ex­cel­lent del­i­cacy, depth, com­plex­ity and ­har­mony. $28

More­pork Vine­yard North­land Pinot Gris 2017

Es­tate-grown and hand-picked at a small, sin­gle-va­ri­ety vine­yard in Kerik­eri, this is de­li­cious from the start. At­trac­tively scented, it is full-bod­ied (13.5% alc/vol) and dry­ish, with vi­brant pear and ly­chee flavours, show­ing very good va­ri­etal char­ac­ter and depth. $24

Mount Brown Grand Re­serve Waipara Pinot Gris 2016

Al­ready de­li­cious, this is a mouth­fill­ing wine (14% alc/ vol), with con­cen­trated stone­fruit and spice flavours, a sliver of sweet­ness, vague hints of honey and ex­cel­lent depth and har­mony. $23 Nau­tilus Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016 This highly

­at­trac­tive wine is a full-bod­ied (13.5% alc/vol), dry style, grown prin­ci­pally in the Awa­tere Val­ley. Hand-picked and partly bar­relfer­mented, it is scented, ­mouth­fill­ing (13.5% alc/vol), vi­brant and smooth, with strongly va­ri­etal, pear, peach, ly­chee and spice flavours, show­ing a dis­tinct touch of com­plex­ity, and a rich, har­mo­nious fin­ish. $28

Ostler Lake­side Vines Waitaki Val­ley Pinot Gris 2016

An im­pres­sive wine that was grown at Lake Waitaki and partly fer­mented in old oak bar­riques. It is ­frac­tion­ally sweet, weighty (14.5% alc/vol) and vi­brantly fruity, with strong pear and ly­chee flavours, show­ing ex­cel­lent va­ri­etal def­i­ni­tion, hints of peaches, gin­ger and spices and a well-rounded fin­ish. $29

Prophet’s Rock Cen­tral Otago Pinot Gris 2016

Es­tate-grown and hand-picked at Bendigo, in the Cromwell Basin, this classy, at­trac­tively scented wine is full of per­son­al­ity. Made with some use of old oak, it is mouth­fill­ing (13% alc/vol), fresh and youth­ful, in an off-dry style with con­cen­trated, ripe, peachy flavours, hints of ap­ples and ly­chees, a slightly creamy tex­ture and a real sense of youth­ful drive. $40

Ruru Re­serve Cen­tral Otago Pinot Gris 2017

This youth­ful wine was hand­picked at Alexandra and partly oak-aged. Invit­ingly scented, it is medium to full-bod­ied (12.9% alc/vol), with fresh, strong peach, ly­chee and nec­tarine flavours, a gen­tle splash of sweet­ness and lively acid­ity. $24 Spy Val­ley Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016 Bar­gain-priced, this is an in­stantly ­ap­peal­ing wine, mostly hand-har­vested and partly bar­rel-fer­mented.

Freshly per­fumed, it is full-bod­ied (13.5% alc/vol) and vi­brantly fruity, with ripe stone-fruit flavours to the fore, show­ing ex­cel­lent del­i­cacy and rich­ness, a faintly oily tex­ture and a slightly sweet, soft, ­last­ing fin­ish. $24 Ter­race Edge Waipara Pinot Gris 2016

Al­ready de­li­cious, this sturdy, fleshy wine (13.5% alc/ vol) was hand-picked and ­fer­mented in bar­rels and tanks. Full-bod­ied and soft, it has stone-fruit and spice flavours, a splash of sweet­ness and a slightly oily rich­ness. $25 Vava­sour Awa­tere Val­ley Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2017 This es­tate­grown wine is bar­gain-priced. At­trac­tively scented, it is softly mouth­fill­ing (13% alc/ vol), with strong, vi­brant, ripe pear, peach and ap­ple flavours, show­ing a touch of bar­rel-fer­ment com­plex­ity, and a dry­ish, har­mo­nious fin­ish. $23 Villa Maria Cel­lar Selec­tion Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016 This great-value wine was grown in the Wairau and Awa­tere val­leys and partly oak-aged. It’s an off-dry style with ­mouth­fill­ing body

(13.5% alc/vol) and rich stone-fruit and spice flavours, finely tex­tured and well-rounded. A har­mo­nious wine, it’s a drink-now or ­cel­lar­ing propo­si­tion. $18 Wairau River Marl­bor­ough Pinot Gris 2016 Es­tate-grown, this partly bar­rel-fer­mented wine is mouth­fill­ing

(13.5% alc/vol) and creamy-tex­tured, with a sliver of sweet­ness and vi­brant cit­rusy, slightly peachy and spicy flavours. It is show­ing good vigour and depth. $20

by Michael Cooper

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