Gris vs. Grigio explained, once and for all
Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio, what’s the difference?
Look, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably heard of Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, or most likely, both. But is it just us, or is the term “Pinot G” being thrown around an awful lot lately?
So what is Pinot G? Something new? A blend of the two aforementioned wines? A 90’s club DJ? A new Sacha Baron Cohen character? Or wait; is that what Osher Gunsberg’s name used to be?
Well for starters, it might help to know that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio ARE, in Australia (despite any “know it all uncle’s” opinion to the contrary), for all intents and purposes, the same thing. And, this once relatively unknown grape has risen, by stealth over the past decade or so, to become one of Australia’s most fashionable white wines.
So what does Pinot Gris mean? Or Pinot Grigio for that matter…
Gris and Grigio are just the French and Italian words (respectively) for “grey” – indicating the greyish colour of the grapes’ skin. And rather than following suit with the naming convention (honestly, is anyone going to buy a wine labelled Pinot Grey?) – we, as a nation, just adopted the grape as is, French/Italian name and all.
OK – so what is Pinot Gris wine? And how is it different to Pinot Grigio?
Let us reiterate again – Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio ARE THE SAME GRAPE.
BUT… this is where it gets interesting. Traditionally, the winemaking techniques associated with the French and Italian versions of this refreshing, crowd-pleasing white, are quite dramatically different.
Is Pinot Gris a dry white wine?
Pinot Gris is most often associated with Alsace, France. The wines made from Pinot Gris in Alsace are typically harvested later than their Italian counterparts, resulting in riper, more complex, textured, luscious, sometimes oily, silky, rich flavourful wines ranging from dry to medium-sweet. Pinot Grigio typically hails from the Veneto in Northern Italy, and its wines are almost always fermented dry. Grigio is crisp, zesty, vibrant, refreshing and fruity, best to be consumed young, in the sunshine, maybe with a seafood salad.
But that’s Europe, steeped in winemaking tradition and bound by appellation laws and centuries of “this is how it’s done” – in Australia, it’s a whole ‘nother story.
The Australian ‘Pinot G’ Story
There’s an ongoing debate in the winemaking world on whether Aussie wines should be labelled Gris or Grigio, or something in between depending on the stylistic choices made by each particular vineyard.
Given Pinot Gris is French, where majority of vineyards are inland, Gris is a style of wine that concentrates on texture and fruit, and is typically lower in acid than its Italian counterpart, where their vineyards have a coastal influence, producing a more acidic, cleaner style of wine.
Therefore, at 6Ft6 we call our Pinot G, Pinot Gris, as the style of wine is fruit-forward and full of texture and complexity, influenced by our vineyards temperate and climate here in the Moorabool Valley. We also purchase 60% of grapes for our Pinot Gris from the King Valley, boasting a similar climate to the Moorabool Valley. In comparison, some of our Bellarine friends that often produce Pinot Grigio, are influenced by the beautiful Bellarine coast, producing a style of wine that is similar to those charming Italians.
Pinot G is one of our country’s fastest-growing retail categories in Australia (6Ft6 Pinot Gris is the Victoria’s 4th most popular Pinot Gris!!), plantings of the grape have already outstripped other white varieties like Viognier and Riesling and are nipping at the heels of Semillon. As a country, we just can’t get enough.
The 6ft6 Pinot Gris is a dry, fragrant wine with ripe pear, citrus blossom notes and a little hint of spiced candy. Its juicy palate has crunchy pear and a citrus tang, with a soft acid backbone.
And it makes a mean wine spritzer – perfect for day drinking this summer. Easy wine cocktails are our jam. Thank us later.
TL;DR (or for those playing at home… too long, didn’t read)
- Pinot Grigio is the Italian name; these wines are typically light, bright and zesty, made to be consumed young, are higher in acid and have a cleaner style.
- Pinot Gris is French; stylistically it is usually richer, fuller and more complex, often with good aging potential
- They are THE SAME GRAPE. Our advice: try them all, find a brand you love (*cough*6Ft6*cough*) and buy up big – you’re going to want it over the summer break, whether you’re a Gris or Grigio lover – this is one easy drinking, crowd-pleasing, perfect summer tipple.