With fewer than 3,000 hectares, plantings of New Zealand Pinot Gris represent a drop in the ocean – about 10% – when compared to the powerhouse of Sauvignon Blanc. But according to New Zealand Wine Growers, it is close to overtaking Chardonnay as the country’s second most planted white grape.
While some wines are made in a Pinot Grigio style – a typically light-bodied ‘dry white wine’ – the best examples follow Alsace Pinot Gris. These are off-dry, with a weightier, oily mouthfeel and rich pear, honeyed stone fruit and spice flavours.
In this young winemaking country the variety is a still a baby. The oldest vines are just 25 to 30 years old, so the potential is there for more development and complexity in future. Winemakers are also experimenting with wild yeast fermentation, skin contact, lees and barrel ageing as well as concrete eggs and amphorae to enhance mouthfeel and texture in this naturally low-acid variety
The majority of plantings (more than 40%) are in Marlborough, where the South Island’s cooler climate imbues great aromatics as well as crisp acidity to offset residual sugar. But fans will find examples from all corners of both islands.
New Zealand Pinot Gris is a perfect dinner companion, matching perfectly with dishes as diverse as roast pork, mussels (or cauliflower) in a cream sauce, Thai green curry or a simple cheese board at the start or end of a meal.
The country has a wealth of top-drawer Pinot Gris from producers such as Misha’s Vineyard, Dry River, Prophet’s Rock, Greywacke, Valli and others. But here are 10 New Zealand Pinot Gris that won’t break the bank, starting from just £9.99.