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Pinot gris

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Pinot gris
Grape (Vitis)
A bunch of Pinot gris grapes
Color of berry skinRose
SpeciesVitis vinifera
Also called(see list of synonyms)
OriginBurgundy, France
Notable regions(see major regions)
VIVC number9275

Pinot gris, Pinot grigio (US: /ˈpn ˈɡri, -/, UK: /ˈɡrɪi/) or Grauburgunder is a white wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of the pinot noir variety, it normally has a pinkish-gray hue, accounting for its name, but the colors can vary from blue-gray to pinkish-brown. The word pinot could have been given to it because the grapes grow in small pinecone-shaped clusters. The wines produced from this grape also vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink,[1] and it is one of the more popular grapes for skin-contact wine.

Pinot gris is grown around the globe, with the "spicy" full-bodied Alsatian and lighter-bodied, more acidic Italian styles being most widely recognized. The Alsatian style, often duplicated in New World wine regions such as Marlborough, Tasmania, South Australia, Washington, Oregon, and South Africa, tend to have moderate to low acidity, higher alcohol levels, and an almost "oily" texture that contributes to the full-bodied nature of the wine. The flavors can range from ripe tropical fruit notes of melon and mango to some botrytis-influenced flavors. In Italy, Pinot grigio grapes are often harvested early to retain the refreshing acidity and minimize some of the overt-fruitiness of the variety, creating a more neutral flavor profile. This style is often imitated in other Old World wine regions, such as Germany, where the grape is known as Ruländer, or more commonly, Grauburgunder.[2]


Like Pinot blanc (right), Pinot gris (center) is a color mutation of Pinot noir (left).

Pinot gris has been known since the Middle Ages in the Burgundy region, where it was probably called Fromenteau. It spread from Burgundy, along with Pinot Noir, arriving in Switzerland by 1300. The grape was reportedly a favorite of Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings exported to Hungary by Cistercian monks: the brothers planted the vines on the slopes of Badacsony bordering Lake Balaton in 1375. The vine soon after developed the name Szürkebarát meaning "grey monk". In 1711, a German merchant named Johann Seger Ruland (re)discovered a grape growing wild in the fields of the Palatinate. The subsequent wine he produced became known as Ruländer, and the vine was later discovered to be Pinot gris.[1]

Until the 18th and 19th centuries, the grape was a popular planting in Burgundy and Champagne, but poor yields and unreliable crops caused the grape to fall out of favor in those areas. The same fate nearly occurred in Germany, but vine breeders in the early 20th century were able to develop clonal varieties that would produce a more consistent and reliable crop.[1]

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have determined that Pinot gris has a remarkably similar DNA profile to Pinot Noir and that the color difference is derived from a genetic mutation that occurred centuries ago. The leaves and the vines of both grapes are so similar that the coloration is the only aspect that differentiates the two.[3]

Santa Margherita wine group, a wine producer, located in the north of Italy, has been the first company in the world in 1961 to vinify pink Pinot grigio grapes as a white wine.[4]

Around 2005, Pinot gris was enjoying increasing popularity in the marketplace, especially in its Pinot grigio incarnation and similar New World varietal wines.[5]


An Italian Pinot grigio from the Alto Adige region

The total area cultivated by this vine worldwide is about 115,000 hectares.



A Pinot gris Vendange Tardive from Alsace, i.e. a sweet late harvest wine

A major grape in Alsace, grown on 13.9% of the region's vineyard surface in 2006,[14] the varietal Pinot-Gris d'Alsace [fr] is markedly different from Pinot gris found elsewhere. The cool climate of Alsace and warm volcanic soils are particularly well suited for Pinot gris, with its dry autumns allowing plenty of time for the grapes to hang on the vines, often resulting in wines of very powerful flavors.[15]

Pinot gris is one of the so-called noble grapes of Alsace, along with Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat, which may be used for varietal Alsace Grand Cru AOC and the late harvest wines Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.[16]

Previously, the Pinot gris wines produced in Alsace were originally labeled Tokay d'Alsace. In the Middle Ages, the grape was popularized in the region by Hungarian traders who were introduced to the grape from Burgundy. During this time, Tokaji was one of the most popular and sought-after wines on the market, and the name was probably used to gain more prestige for the Alsatian wine. Pinot gris was believed to have been brought back to Alsace by General Lazarus von Schwendi after his campaign against the Turks in the 16th century. It was planted in Kientzheim under the name "Tokay".[17] However, the Pinot gris grape has no known genetic relations to the Furmint, Hárslevelű, Yellow Muscat, and Orémus grapes that are traditionally used in Tokaji wine.[18] In 1980, the European Economic Community passed regulations related to protected designations of origin (PDOs), and when Hungary started negotiations for European Union membership, it became clear that the Tokay name would have to become a PDO for the Tokaj-Hegyalja region.[19] Therefore, in 1993, an agreement was reached between Hungary and the European Union to phase out the name Tokay from non-Hungarian wine. In the case of Alsace, Tokay Pinot gris was adopted as an intermediate step, with the "Tokay" part to be eliminated in 2007.[17][20][21] Many producers had implemented the change to plain Pinot gris on their labels by the early 2000s, several years before the deadline.

In the Loire Valley, Pinot gris produces a single variety rose wine described as 'gris' in Reuilly AOC.


Pinot gris was first introduced into Australia in 1832 in the collection of grapes brought by James Busby.[22] In Victoria, wines from the grape are labeled both Pinot gris and Pinot grigio, depending on the sweetness of wine, with the drier wines being labeled Pingt Grigio.[23]


Grauburgunder cultivation in Germany is divided by wine-growing area as follows:

Wine region Vineyards (hectares)
Ahr 3
Baden 1,636
Franken 48
Hessische Bergstraße 38
Mittelrhein 3
Moselle 79
Nahe 210
Palatinate 1,044
Rheingau 19
Rheinhessen 1,153
Saale-Unstrut 30
Saxony 41
Stargader Land -
Württemberg 105
Total for Germany in 2007 4,413

Source: Vine area statistics, 13 March 2008, Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden 2008 in Beschreibende Sortenliste des Bundessortenamtes 2008, p. 198 ff.[24]


In Hungary, this variety of wine is called Szürkebarát and is produced primarily in the Badacsony, Mátra, and Balaton-felvidék regions.


Pinot grigio is a popular planting in northeastern Italy, in regions such as Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

In Italy, where the grape is known as Pinot grigio, plantings can be found in the Lombardy region around Oltrepò Pavese[25] and in South Tyrol, Italy's northernmost wine region.[26] The grape is also prominent in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.[27]

New Zealand[edit]

Pinot gris is grown in both the North Island, (Waiheke Island, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne) and the South Island (Central Otago, Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara), with 2,488 hectares (6,150 acres) producing as of 2019. This is a nearly eight-fold increase since 2003.[28] In 2007, Pinot gris overtook Riesling as the third most planted white variety after Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay. Half of all plantings are in Canterbury and Marlborough, with the wine developing a "rich, flinty, fruit-laden character".[29]

United States[edit]

A Pinot gris from the Russian River Valley of California

David Lett from Eyrie Vineyards planted the first American Pinot gris vines in Oregon in 1965. Hoping to increase sales, Lett started to graft Riesling vines to Pinot gris in 1979.[30] The grape originally had difficulties finding a sustainable market until Lett began marketing the wine to salmon traders as a good match to the fish. The wine's popularity only increased slightly until the mid-1990s, when well-capitalized larger producers entered the picture with enough volume to warrant expensive marketing.[3] In 1991, King Estate Winery was the world's leading producer of premium Pinot gris and farmed the world's largest contiguous organic vineyard, which contains over 300 acres (1.2 km2) of Pinot gris grapes.[31]

There are about 1,620 acres (660 ha) planted in the Central and South coastal areas of California.[32] The Pinot gris from California is often called Pinot grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy.[33]

Pinot gris can be found in the northern regions of Ohio, which is considered part of the pinot trail.


Pinot gris thrives in cooler climates, with the major growing regions being Alsace in France, north-eastern Italy and the US state of Oregon.[34] This can lead to either a sweeter wine or if fermented to dryness, a wine high in alcohol. Clusters of Pinot gris may have a variety of colors on the vine. The grapes grow in small clusters (hence the pinecone name) and, upon ripening, often display a pinkish-gray hue, although the colors can vary from blue-gray to pinkish-brown.[32] Pinot gris is often blended with Pinot Noir to enrich and lighten the Pinot Noir's flavor.[35]

Wine characteristics[edit]

Color variations among different styles of Pinot gris. (L-R) Italian Pinot grigio with a straw yellow color, Alsatian Pinot gris with a lemon color, Oregon Pinot gris with a copper-pink color.

Wines made from the Pinot gris vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine-making style they are from. Alsatian Pinot gris are medium to full-bodied wines with a rich, somewhat floral bouquet. They tend to be spicy in comparison with other Pinot gris. While most Pinot gris are meant to be consumed early, Alsatian Pinot gris can age well.[36] German Pinot gris are more full-bodied with a balance of acidity and slight sweetness. In Oregon, the wines are medium-bodied with a yellow to copper-pink color and aromas of pear, apple, and/or melon. In California, the Pinot gris are more light-bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste with some pepper and arugula notes. The Pinot grigio style of Italy is a light-bodied, often lean wine that is light in color with sometimes spritzy flavors that can be crisp and acidic.[37]

Pinot gris is considered an "early to market wine" that can be bottled and out on the market within 4–12 weeks after fermentation.[38]


Pinot gris is called by many names in different parts of the world:

Synonym of Pinot gris Country / Region
Auxerrois gris France Alsace
Fauvet France France
Fromentau / Fromentot France Languedoc
Grauburgunder / Grauer Burgunder Austria Austria Germany Germany (dry)
Grauer Mönch Germany Germany
Grauklevner Germany Germany
Gris cordelier France France
Malvoisie France Loire Valley Switzerland Switzerland
Μονεμβασία Greece Greece
Pinot grigio Italy Italy United States California Australia Australia
Pinot beurot France Loire Valley, Burgundy
Ruländer Austria Austria Germany Germany Romania Romania (sweet)
Rulandské šedé Czech Republic Czech Republic Slovakia Slovakia
Sivi pinot Croatia Croatia Slovenia Slovenia
Szürkebarát Hungary Hungary
Tokay d'Alsace France Alsace (renamed to Pinot gris due to EU regulations)
Піно ґрі, Піно сірий Ukraine Ukraine
Пино-гри Russia Russia
灰皮诺 China China

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Wine & Spirits Education Trust: "Wine and Spirits: Understanding Wine Quality", pp. 6-9. Second Revised Edition (2012), London. ISBN 9781905819157.
  3. ^ a b K. MacNeil: The Wine Bible, p. 745. Workman Publishing 2001. ISBN 1-56305-434-5.
  4. ^ Barlow, Seth (March 29, 2016). "5 Things You Never Knew About the World's Most Popular Pinot Grigio". olooneys.com. O'Looney's Wine & Liquor. Retrieved February 17, 2022. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is one of the world's most popular wines. Available in over 70 countries, it's a common site on dinner tables and wine lists all over America, but how much do you know about this famous wine?
  5. ^ Wine Business Insider Pinot grigio and Pinot gris Poised to Overtake White Zinfandel 10/10/2005.
  6. ^ "Areas of vines and grape production by variety – 2007–08". Annual Report 2008–2009. Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. 2009. p. 89. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  7. ^ LES CEPAGES NOIRS DANS LE VIGNOBLE (pdf), Statistics on red wine varieties per major region, part 1, publication by ONIVINS, 2008.
  8. ^ LES CEPAGES NOIRS DANS LE VIGNOBLE (PDF), Statistics on red wine varieties per major region, part 2, publication by ONIVINS, 2008.
  9. ^ Deutsches Weininstitut (2013), Statistik 2013/2014 (in German), Mainz{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ "New Zealand Winegrowers Annual Report 2019". New Zealand Winegrowers. 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  11. ^ "New Zealand Wine: Statistics & Reports". New Zealand Winegrowers. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  12. ^ "Rulandské šedé – Wines of Slovakia ::|:: Imagine". www.winesofslovakia.com. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Das Weinjahr 2008 (PDF), published by the Office fédéral de l'agriculture OFAG.
  14. ^ CIVA website, read on September 9, 2007.
  15. ^ Oz Clarke: Encyclopedia of Grapes, p. 172. Harcourt Books 2001. ISBN 0-15-100714-4.
  16. ^ H. Johnson & J. Robinson: The World Atlas of Wine, p. 124. Mitchell Beazley Publishing 2005. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
  17. ^ a b Jancis Robinson, ed. (2006). "Tokay d'Alsace". Oxford Companion to Wine (Third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 701. ISBN 0-19-860990-6.
  18. ^ K. MacNeil: The Wine Bible, p. 595. Workman Publishing 2001. ISBN 1-56305-434-5.
  19. ^ K. MacNeil: The Wine Bible, p. 284. Workman Publishing 2001. ISBN 1-56305-434-5.
  20. ^ Jancis Robinson, ed. (2006). "Alsace". Oxford Companion to Wine (Third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 16. ISBN 0-19-860990-6.
  21. ^ "Decanter October 11, 2006: Italians lament the end of Tocai". Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  22. ^ Queensland Tourism,The World Atlas of Wine Fair Trade and Wine Industry Development. "Pinot gris". Archived from the original on April 9, 2007.
  23. ^ H. Johnson & J. Robinson, p. 307. Mitchell Beazley Publishing 2005. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
  24. ^ Beschreibende Sortenliste des Bundessortenamtes 2008(pdf; 507 kB) Archived 2015-11-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ H. Johnson & J. Robinson: The World Atlas of Wine, p. 156. Mitchell Beazley Publishing 2005. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
  26. ^ H. Johnson & J. Robinson: The World Atlas of Wine, p. 167. Mitchell Beazley Publishing 2005. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
  27. ^ H. Johnson & J. Robinson: The World Atlas of Wine, p. 171. Mitchell Beazley Publishing 2005. ISBN 1-84000-332-4.
  28. ^ NZ Wine Institute Planted Area Statistics Archived 2007-03-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ NZ Wine Institute Aromatics Information Archived 2006-11-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ T. Pinney. A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present, p. 328 (2005). ISBN 0-520-24176-2.
  31. ^ Goode, Jamie "Oregon Wine Country," The Wine Anorak, July 30, 2008.
  32. ^ a b Professional Friends of Wine: Pinot Grigio Archived 2011-10-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ "Pinot Gris – The Other White Wine". Archived from the original on July 7, 2007. Retrieved March 23, 2007.
  34. ^ Brian St. Pierre (2014). A Perfect Glass of Wine: Choosing, Serving, and Enjoying. Chronicle Books. p. 42. ISBN 9780811878197.
  35. ^ Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio
  36. ^ Rosen, Jennifer (June 24, 2009). "Why Am I Drinking Pinot Grigio, or is it Pinot Gris?". Wine: Features. Novus Vinum. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  37. ^ K. MacNeil: The Wine Bible, pp. 60-61. Workman Publishing 2001. ISBN 1-56305-434-5.
  38. ^ A. Crowe Making Great Early-to-Market White Wines Wine Business Monthly, 02/15/2007.