Anyone can learn about wine from a book. Not everyone is lucky enough to live close to a wine region that grows many different grapes from around the wine world, and does so many of them so well. BC's diversity is its strength, so this series will help you learn about wine the best way we know how: by tasting.
Maybe you've been sitting around at home, watching a ton of PG 13 movies with the family. Pinot Gris is the likely companion for your coffee mug; it can be fun & lively, zesty or mellow, thoughtful, complex or simple, or anywhere in between. It pairs with any situation, really. There's a Pinot Gris for that!
BC's most widely-planted white grape is Pinot Gris, with 1132 acres, growing in every designated viticultural area (DVA) with a diversity of climates and soils.
Pinot Gris (or Grigio) is generally produced in a dry style in BC, and can be light with green apple, citrus and pear notes, or more full-bodied with tropical fruits, red apples, ripe pear and stone fruit. Pinot Gris can also see some skin-contact, giving it colour ranging from palest pink to deep coppery-pink. It can be aged in stainless steel, or sometimes partially in oak, or sometimes fully in neutral oak.
Pinot Gris is incredibly popular because it can be sipped by itself, and it will complement most food (or at least help wash it down, even if it does nothing to enhance the pairing). Compare and contrast the following wines, and see if a favourite style appears.
Pinot Gris, 4 different wines from three growing regions:
Arrowleaf Winery Pinot Gris: from Lake Country, slightly farther north and also east of Naramata, this wine regularly wins domestic and international awards for the variety, which is a pretty amazing feat considering how much Gris is grown throughout the world. Ripe stone fruits balanced by citrus, this is an easy to like wine.
Blue Grouse Winery Pinot Gris: Among the oldest Pinot Gris vines in BC, from one of the first vineyards on Vancouver Island, this vintage with its touch of malolactic fermentation, boasts aromas of butterscotch and vanilla with a medium-long finish and fresh acidity.
Pentage Wines 2017 Pinot Gris: from the Naramata Bench, where most of the Pinot Gris is grown, this has aromas of beautiful honeydew melon, pear and lots of citrus with grapefruit, ripe pear and citrus on the palate that is round and luscious with a long finish. Six different stainless steel fermentations were used to craft this blend. These fermentations varied in harvest date, ripeness of fruit, yeast selection, fermentation temperature and post-fermentation residual sugar resulting in a wine with subtle complexity and exceptional balance.
Nichol Winery 2019 Pinot Gris also from the Naramata Bench, with time on the skins to develop a salmon berry hue. Aromas of peach pit, apricot, ginger and apple skin. Medium bodied with citrus and orchard fruit on the dry but concentrated palate. Fresh acidity carries the grapefruit tinged finish.
Kutatas Pinot Gris: a young couple who worked for Cowichan Valley wineries moved to Salt Spring, bought a neglected vineyard/winery, re-named it and began making their own wines. Their winery name, Kutatás (Koo-Tah-Tash), is a nod to their shared Hungarian background and is a Hungarian term for research, inquisition, exploration or quest. This is from Central Saanich fruit from Vancouver Island. The wine spent ten months on its lees, giving it a creamy complexity and notes of baking spice, enhancing the natural apple, pear and citrus flavours common to Island grown Gris.
Averill Creek Pinot Grigio: from Vancouver Island, Averill Creek is in the heart of the Cowichan Valley, built into the side of Mt Prevost. Established in 2001, Averill Creek makes great cool climate wines. Foot stomped and wild fermented, 90% of this in stainless and 10% old oak for texture, this has bright granny smith apple and citrus on a refreshing palate.