[PEE-no gree/PEE-no GREE-jeeo]
Pinot Gris' genetic roots can be traced to both France's Burgundy region and southwest Germany, and is a lighter-skinned mutation of the red grape Pinot Noir. Today, there is relatively little Pinot Gris grown in Burgundy, but it has become significant in France's Alsace region, home to some of the world's most lauded versions. It has spread to northern Italy, where it's known as Pinot Grigio, as well as to New World regions including Oregon. It's also still grown in Germany, where it's known as Grauburgunder.
Pinot Gris' berries are much darker than most white grapes, reaching pink and purple hues. It's early-budding and early-ripening, and produces relatively low acidity, making it best-suited to cool climates, which allow the resulting wines a degree of freshness. It also has naturally high sugar levels; some producers opt to make late-harvest wines.
In Alsace, Pinot Gris wines are fleshy in texture and medium- to full-bodied, showing subtle orchard and stone fruit accented by floral and spice notes. The best examples remain fresh despite the grape's natural tendency toward low acidity and high alcohol. However, Italian Pinot Grigio is so different it's sometimes hard to believe it's the same grape. Bulk-production versions are made from grapes picked very early, preserving high acidity at the expense of flavor. More serious examples hail from Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia-Giulia, where the wines are usually light- to medium-bodied, with a stony, mineral note accompanied by floral, orchard and stone fruit flavors.
Where it's grown
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio icons
- Alsace: Hugel, Trimbach, Weinbach, Zind-Humbrecht
- Trentino-Alto Adige: Alois Lageder, Cantina Terlano, Cantina Tramin
- Friuli Venezia-Giulia: Marco Felluga, Vie de Romans
Suggested food pairings
- Alsatian Pinot Gris: smoked trout and sauerkraut
- Italian Pinot Grigio: salade niçoise