Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio? – Same, same, but different

Reviewed wines on offer by EveSpirits, The Cellar Door, Wine Exchange Asia


A quick one this week as I’m heading down to Tassie to do a spot of fishing and importantly fit in some cellar door visits.  I’m a week late for the International Cool Climate Symposium held in Hobart so you can figure that I wasn’t invited. Maybe next year.


Over the weekend, I gathered with friends to celebrate the end of Chinese New Year with yu sheng, food and wine. I was responsible for the wine selection and, after extensive research on matching wines with Asian food, I decided on a dry-ish Riesling, a Gewurtztraminer and a Pinot Gris for the whites. Red wines with Asian food present more of a challenge so I went with a Pinot Noir and a GSM (or was it an SGM? Or a GMS?). Anyway, the first surprise of the night was how poorly the whites matched the Asian food. OK, it was Asian-ish, more nouveau Asian than traditional but the whites just didn’t stand up. The second surprise was how well the reds stood up.  Myth busted? With the whites, I rejected Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and included the Gewurtztraminer, at some risk I thought as I hadn’t had a Gewurtz for probably oh, 15 years, . Lo and behold, the Gewurtztraminer, whilst not the greatest match, was by far the most popular of the whites.

The other thing I remember was the discussion on Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. Is it the same grape or different clones of the same grape? Can Gris or Grigio come from the same vine? What should I expect from Grigio and what from Gris?

To answer that, I turned to the Feb/Mar 2012 edition of James Halliday’s Wine Companion where I remembered there was an article on just such subject. Summarising here, the answer is that yes, it’s the same grape, and yes it can be the same vine. According to Judy Robinson of Barringwood Park in Tasmania, quoted in the Wine Companion “the time you elect to pick the grapes dictates the style….pick the grapes early – just as they’ve started to become ripe – and you get the Italian grigio style: lean, tight, all green apples, fresh pears. Pick them later in the season, when the grapes are riper, and you have the Alsation style gris: Textural, luscious, spiced apples, and ripe pears, honey, apricot”

There you have it.


To the wines….

2011 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$44 by the case at EveSpirits – With this savvy, you’re either in love with it, over it, or been lost on a desert island somewhere for the last 25 years and never heard of it. Wine Advocate give this vintage 90 pts (“outstanding”) and Wine Spectator 91 points (ditto “outstanding”). Don’t sit on it, drink now or next year latest. It’s $44 bucks, it’s great value.

2010 / Ten Sisters / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $30 at Wine Exchange Asia – Interesting (and I think worrying for New Zealand) that it’s easier to find ratings on today’s 2011 New Zealand wines by US raters than by New Zealand raters. C’mon Kiwis, c’mon. 700 wineries and only a couple of recognized raters? Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator put it in their “very good” bracket, and both reckon drink this year.  US$17 in the big smoke so S$30 here looks enticing.

2011 / Wither Hills / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$30.40 at The Cellar Door – Yet another US rating for the 2011 Kiwi wine. Just scrapes into Wine Advocate’s “very good” category with 85 pts.  Should be OK till next year. Pricing looks quite good.

2009 / Coal Pit / Tiwha / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$65 at Wine Exchange Asia – Bob Campbell gives it 94pts putting it into his “excellent” category. Wine Advocate gives it 88 pts putting it into their “very good” category.  Drinking to 2014. Bob Campbell said it is “very appealing.” With a RRP of NZ$42, the price here is about right but it’s got stiff competition today.

2009 / Sandalford / Reserve / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$38.80 at EveSpirits – No 95 pointers here today. This is 94 pts from Halliday (“outstanding”) with drinking to 2015. RRP is A$30 so great buying.

There’s a pretty clear winner in the BBI stakes and that’s the Sandalford Chardonnay. It’s followed by the Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc which keeps out the Cloudy Bay by its very attractive price for a little drop in quality.


“Good wine is as much about what stays out as it is what goes in.” – Daniel Sogg writing in Wine Spectator, March 2006




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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907