The Problem with Pinot Gris

The Problem with Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris (and Grigio) has become incredibly popular. Which is weird because fewer varieties suffer from such issues with identity, except maybe merlot, and Riesling
Pinot Gris / Grigio. What’s the deal?
In Theory it’s like this:
In France they ripen the fruit fully, which means the grapes have slightly more sugar (grapes, not wine). When these grapes are fermented into wine, they usually have softer acid, more voluptuous feel and are slightly higher in alcohol. They’re dry but opulent and rich. Alcohol can seem like sweetness, as can lower acid. The French call theirs Gris

The Italians call theirs Grigio (the two are exactly the same variety)
Difference is, the Italians tend to pick their fruit a little earlier so that the berries have slightly less sugar, slightly higher acid and when fermented into wine, the wines are fresh, zippy and dry, with slightly lower alcohol.
The problem is however, that other factors get in the way in the new world (the Southern Hemisphere mostly). The first of these is that there’s no actual laws or rules that govern the labelling term new world winemakers must use. Given this, the marketers will get involved, notice that wines labelled Gris are outselling those labelled grigio this year and insist that regardless of style, they be labelled Gris.
To further complicate the issue, the variety is called Pinot Gris. So technically it’s correct at all times to use the term gris.
How complicated and frustrating is it?
So how do you tell? The short answer is you basically can’t until you taste it or you read about someone else tasting it.
We’ve seen the advent of the Riesling dryness scale in recent months (I think it’s a ludicrous idea as it propagates the notion that Riesling is sweet and sweet is bad)
How about a Grey scale? (Both Gris and Grigio mean grey). Now that’s something that’d be useful.
There’s a 50 shades of grey pun in here somewhere… but instead I’ll say that PG (Pinot Gris / Grigio) needs a PG (Producer Guided) Rating.

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