Tuesday, June 14, 2011

BC Varietal Focus: Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is one of the most widely planted white grapes in British Columbia (neck and neck with Chardonnay depending on the region and the survey you reference). Easily a signature grape for the Province due to its uniqueness and ability to ripen in all three of the major regions: Island, Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. But is there a signature style of Pinot Gris that BC could broadcast to the world? No. You'll find no uniform presentation of the varietal, even regionally, that marketers could turn into the next Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Oregon Pinot Noir. Use of stainless steel, oak and the "Pinot Grigio" moniker are inconsistent at best.

Perhaps a signature style may develop in the future that would make consumers globally recognize the words "BC Pinot Gris" as a calling card for a unique expression of the varietal. Until then, we must appreciate the varietal in its many incarnations as produced by BC's wineries. Below are a few selections from three styles of Pinot Gris that are currently produced with BC.


Stoneboat Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris - $18
2010 release is a solid representation of the varietal combining expressive orchard fruit with characters of cucumber, snow peas and lees.
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Averill Creek Vineyard 2009 Pinot Grigio - $18
Crisp texture, concentrated citrus fruit and refreshing acidity- everything you want from a Pinot Grigio.
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Van Westen Vineyards 2008 Vino Grigio - $19
This is Pinot Gris made in the Italian Pinot Grigio style, which is to say un-oaked and full of fruit intensity. Aromas and flavours of melons, orchard fruits and river stones with tropical fruit characters and acidity.
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LaStella Winery 2010 Vivace - $25
Balance is spot on with good acidity and enough residual sugar to mask the alcohol and create a joyful and full-ish texture on your palate.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2010 Pinot Gris - $18
Produced from West Kelowna grown fruit and fermented in stainless steel tanks, this Pinot Gris is fruit forward and terroir driven with excellent austere characters to balance the orchard fruit and lemon zest notes.
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Haywire Winery 2009 Switchback Pinot Gris
Starts with alluring aromas of juicy, baked peaches and minerality, with herbal notes on the nose. The dry palate offers both fruity and savory flavours of citrus fruits, pears and dried herbs.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Pinot Gris - $18
Aromas of rich, baked apples and citrus fruit gently spill out of the glass followed by a dry palate with lemon zest tartness, some minerality and a medley of orchard fruit flavours.
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Averill Creek Vineyard 2007 Pinot Gris - $20
The palate is full of butter, creamy-fruit and mineral notes and despite going through a complete maloactic fermentation there is enough residual acid to cut the full oak flavours.
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Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery 2009 Pinot Gris - $22
50% of the wine was oak aged which has added a nice texture and allowed the winemaker to dial down the sweetness while keeping some body.
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