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

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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.

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