Hooray, I managed to get to Boulogne for 5 days at the beginning of December. This month, reviewing two Pinot Gris wines purchased on my visit. But first…
Differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio
When out at a bar in the early evening, and wanting a fairly decent crisp dry white wine, I normally choose a Pinot Grigio. Always a safe bet when just ordering a glass (or two).
I prefer this to a chardonnay, and whilst researching, I found this quote from wine folly about Pinot Grigio.
‘It’s Dry: Pinot Grigio often tastes less sweet than Chardonnay because of high acidity.’
But it is not easy to buy Pinot Grigio in France, as it is an Italian wine, but one does see quite a few Pinot Gris. So I purchased two, and wanted to compare with a Pinot Grigio. When the circumstances arose to taste these, I wanted to taste with others, so took the two Pinot Gris with me and with Fiona to a friend or hers, Rose (who is good at wine tasting). Unfortunately no Pinot Grigio to compare at the same time, so will rely on memory.
Total coincidence, but when writing this month’s blog post, and wasting a bit of time on the internet, I looked at my LinkedIn feed and saw an article in the ‘Wine Bloggers, Lovers & Enthusiasts’ group titled ‘Key differences between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris’ So with interest, I read the post and the comments.
The post was mainly just the following graphic. (Not sure if I can copy this. I will remove upon request).
I was not too sure about this and a lot of the comments were a bit dismissive.
“Its the same wine“, “Nonsense“, “This wine graphic was done by somebody who knows much more about graphics than wine. First of all, they are the same grape.”
“The information on Pinot Gris is not correct – the wine is not low in acid and is usually dry or off-dry. Only a small amount are late-harvested and on the sweeter side.”
Best comment was probably someone who quoted from Kelsy Vigh of Total Wine.
“Today, you’ll find most French Pinot Gris is from the Alsace region. Wines from Alsace can range from bone dry to sweet depending on when they are harvested.Late harvest grapes are often allowed to go through noble rot or botrytis. This beneficial fungus concentrates the flavors in the grape allowing winemakers to produce richer, fuller-bodied sweet wines.” Kelsey Vigh, Total Wine Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) wine guide.
As it happens, the two wines being reviewed this month are both Alsace wines.
The Alsace is in north eastern France on the Rhine River plain, bordering Germany and Switzerland. It has alternated between German and French control over the centuries. This might be why some people make the connection to the sweeter Riesling white wines.
A quick Google of ‘Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Gris’ brought up following from Wine Folly
“Italian Pinot Grigio Usually totally dry with brilliant acidity with a bitter almond note
French Pinot Gris Fleshy and more unctuous with faint honey notes from botrytis.”
Holiday in Zanzibar and Tanzania next year
Before I go onto the wines, we all met up at Rose’s to plan a holiday to Zanzibar and Tanzania. All now booked for next July, it will be right after trip to France. I am really looking forward to it. And if there are any local wines to try, I will do so and post about them next year.
Pierre Chanau Pinot Gris
- Pinot Gris Alsace 2021
- €6.17 from Auchan
Aroma: Nice and fresh but a bit sweet for me.Paul (me)
Taste: Interesting flavours, not as crisp as a grigio, also a bit sweet, but fruity
Aroma: Perfumed and sharp, fresh.Fiona
Taste: A bit disappointed compared to aroma.
Aroma: Elder flower with slight citrus tones.Rose
Taste: Rounded and peachy, but lacks depth and body. Finishes well. Fruity,
Huber & Bleger Pinot Gris
- Huber & Bleger (HB)
- Vin D’Alscace Pinot Gris 2020
- €7.20 from Auchan
At Rose’s house, I was very impressed with some of the art in her house. So images of first wine is in front of some interesting artwork.
Aroma: Very little aroma, delicate and subtle, quite different to Pierre Chanau.Paul (me)
Taste: Agree Fiona and Rose (see below), this is better. Drier and less sweet.
Aroma: Very feint.Fiona
Taste: Prefer this wine, drier.
Aroma: Cannot smell anything. Indistinct.Rose
Taste: More complex, more depth. Apple flavour.
Review of wines
Of the two, there was unanimous preference for the Huber & Bleger wine. The other is a ‘Pierre Chanau’ and if you have been reading previous posts, you will remember that this is an Auchan own brand wine. (Chanau is an anagram of Auchan). Some of them are very good value, but not this one. It is often hard to come up with professional wine reviewer type descriptions, but if you taste two together, easier just to say which one you prefer. (Although Rose was very good at tasting, having done some before). And in this case, the Huber & Bleger was definitely preferred.
And as I have noticed before, a better aroma does not equate to a better taste. Sometimes a more subtle delicate aroma often means that the taste is better compared to one with an overpowering aroma.
Pinot Gris vs Pinot Grigio
Comparing it to Pinot Grigio wines, I have to rely on my memory of tasting these. I normally only buy by the glass when out at a bar or restaurant. And I am sticking to my original opinion that when eating/drinking out, and you want a good crisp dry white wine that will not give you any unpleasant surprises, a Pinot Grigio is a good option.
I have gone back to the LinkedIn post on this, and a lot of people, in my opinion, being a bit over critical of the original post. (More criticisms there now since I pasted in those earlier). Yes, they have pointed out the the main difference in the name is that grey is ‘gris’ in French, and ‘grigio’ in Italian, and yes, the graphic is slightly crude (and not totally accurate) in the way in tries to simplify differences between the two. But differences do exist. A lot is because many of the French Gris’s are from the Alsace region, and the same grape can produce different types of wine depending on where they are grown. (Think of how good the Sauvignon Blancs are from New Zealand. Soil type and climate must be a factor).
If you want to be sure of a dry white, stick to Pinot Grigio. But if you want to try something a bit fruitier and more complex, try a Pinot Gris. It can be a bit of a gamble as all three of us were not impressed with the Pierre Chanau. But the Huber & Bleger was liked by all. It was fruitier (and yes slightly sweeter than a Pinot Grigio), had more depth and complexity. Well worth a try.