Pinot Gris is a relatively recent addition to wine varieties in Australia, but it has been embraced by wine drinkers for it’s lightness and ability to match with a variety of different cuisines.
There is much confusion concerning the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. They are actually the exact same grape variety, known as Pinot Gris in France and Pinot Grigio in Italy. The name actually means the same thing in French and Italian – grey pinot. Pinot Gris is in fact a mutation of the red variety Pinot Noir and on the vine it tends to look bluey/grey and often some brown hints.
While the grape variety is exactly the same, the style of wine that is produced is very different. The Italian Pinot Grigios are picked early and are usually light-bodied, crisp with stone fruit and floral aromas. The French versions are late picked and are bigger and richer styles with a spicer character and often a touch of sweetness and oak. Australian styles tend to sit somewhere in the middle with rich fruit flavours and a delightful, crisp dry finish.
Balgownie Estate has been producing Pinot Gris since 2009 from a vineyard planted in the cooler climates around Yarra Junction. The characteristic style of Balgownie has a touch of sweetness and a hint of oak character resulting in a style closer to a French pinot Gris.
Balgownie Estate 2015 Pinot Gris has delicious flavours of pear and citrus with a touch of rose petal and almonds. The wine spends five months in old French oak barrels to impart some texture and a hint of creaminess to the palate. There is a touch of sweetness which is balanced by the fresh, crisp acid and the long finish on the end. A perfect wine to drink now but one that will grow in complexity over the next five years.