Eleven shades of the grey grape
Whether you call it Pinot Gris (in France) or Pinot Grigio (in Italy), consumers around the world are turning ‘the grey grape’ into a cult white variety, writes Graham Howe
IN THE Cape, Pinot Grigio, a niche variety which makes up only 0,27% of production, ranks 24th in our national vineyard. First planted in the Cape in 1975, one of the key white grapes of the Alsace makes a unique offering for 16 Cape cellars which make unwooded, easydrinking, lower-alcohol versions today. You might like this perfumed white wine with a spectrum of apple, pear, lime, quince, melon, peach and apricot flavours: Arendskloof Pinot Grigio 2012. A new release from Eagle’s Cliff winery located in the mountains between Worcester and Villiersdorp was the top-rated Pinot Grigio in Platter’s SA Wines Guide this year winning four stars. The flagship label of this family cellar shows zesty green apple and lime flavours with a spicy twist to a versatile food wine. Bianco di Stellenbosch. Made from Pinot Grigio grapes by Idiom Wines, owned by the Bottega family, the wine is part of an authentic Italian range from their Da Capo vineyards on Sir Lowry’s Pass which include Barbera, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. The Pinot Grigio gives typical fragrant expression in a light, stylish version. De Grendel Pinot Gris 2012. Made in the riper, medium- to full-bodied French style, by whole-bunch pressing grapes picked at varying stages. Winemaker Elzette du Preez has made five vintages — blending in barrel-fermented Pinot Gris to add buttery richness and length on palate with a spicy twist. Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio 2012. Named after the old Georgian villa at this Stellenbosch wine farm, the delightful label features the house cat on the parapet. Made from free-run juice, this zesty wine has intense fruit flavours of dried peach, apricot and litchi broadened by a splash of Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc and lees. Hill & Dale Pinot Grigio 2012. Sourced from 30-year-old vines in Stellenbosch, this fresh, vibrant wine shows nuances of fresh tropical fruit, peach and pear, and zesty lime with a crisp acidity. Winemaker Guy Webber of Stellenzicht says, “Pinot Grigio was chosen to meet growing local demand for a variety … in vogue today”. Robertson Winery Pinot Grigio 2012. This winery from “the small town with a big heart” makes two unwooded Pinots which deliver great quality and value — a delicious strawberry Pinot Noir and its offspring, a Pinot Grigio with ripe tropical pineapple and melon, peach and quince flavours, zesty lime character and well-rounded finish. Usana Pinot Gris 2012. Meaning “a new beginning” in Xhosa, the Winshaw family in Stellenbosch are descendants of the pioneer of Chateau Libertas, the first red blend made in SA in the ’30s. One of the best examples made in the Cape is a refreshing mouthful of crisp green apple, lime and gooseberries. Van Loveren Pinot Grigio 2012. The Retief’s family winery in the Robert- son Wine Valley is one of the pioneers of the variety in the Cape. Sourced from 15-year-old vines planted in limestone soils, this unwooded version gives full expression to the natural pear, peach and honey flavours of Pinot Grigio with a lingering mineral finish. Terra del Capo Pinot Grigio 2012. You can taste unusual Italian varieties like Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio at Anthonij Rupert’s new cellar-door at the gateway to the Franschhoek Wine Valley. One of the best expressions of the variety in the Cape showcases the apple and pear quality of the natural fruit in a subtle aromatic wine. Two Oceans Pinot Grigio 2012. Flashes of green tints lead to a wine with aromas of freshly cut grass, dried peach, apricot and litchi flavours and lovely texture. Sourced from sustainable vineyards in the Breede River Valley, the citrus character of this easy quaffing wine is a great match for piquant Asian foods with sweet chilli sauce. Waverley Hills Pinot Grigio 2012. This organic wine and olive farms near Wolseley in the Tulbagh mountains makes an earthy organic version with prominent fruit and floral flavours, pear, melon and quince nuances, zesty acidity and fresh minerality. This unwooded wine spent three months on its lees, broadening the mouthfeel.
Far left: A panoramic view of L’Ormarins – the original home of Anthonij Rupert Wines. Above is the Terra del Capo tasting room at Anthonij Rupert Wines in Franschhoek.