Cuisine Wine

NZ & International Pinot Gris Tasting results

18 February 2024 (Cuisine magazine Issue 222)

The recent vintage of cool-climate pinot gris delivers fresh, bright wines perfect for drinking this summer, says MARY-THÉRÈSE BLAIR.

After a challenging couple of years for pinot gris in New Zealand we appear to have struck gold with the 2023 vintage. All except one of our top nine are from the 2023 vintage and that wine is Australian, so that’s that point proven. It’s no surprise that each of these top wines is from the cooler regions in the South Island and even our Aussie example is from Clare Valley, a region known for cool nighttime temperatures. So why does that matter? Cool climates equate to freshness. Regions where the temperature plummets at night after summer heat during the day means that the fruit doesn’t get overripe or jammy – ‘cooked’ as they say in the biz. The freshness of the fruit gets locked in and the levels of that all-important acid stay high. The end result is summed up in our top nine: bright, crisp wines that will deliver incredible drinkability this summer.

top NZ & International Pinot Gris

Opawa Pinot Gris 2023 (Wairau, Marlborough)

Translated from the Māori word ōpaoa meaning ‘smoky river’, the Opawa vineyard is planted on the historic riverbed of the Opawa river. The course of the river was changed so that the Wairau plains could be developed for agriculture leaving this part dry and desolate.

An old riverbed is usually barren and stony with water draining freely and thus not fit for growing – with the exception of grapevines, that is. They do say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and this is true in the case of old riverbeds and grapevines. The arid and stony soil means that the grapevine has to work harder and the roots must go deeper to find water and nutrients. In doing so, the vines find minerals and elements deep within the soil that help to give the grapes complexity and a unique sense of place. The stones in the soil take in and retain heat during the day and release it back to the vines at night, a protective measure in a cool-climate region such as Marlborough that can be prone to spring frosts. This wine proves the magic of the riverbed – it was an absolute standout. It is high toned and fresh yet complex and rounded on the nose with aromas of citrus pith, ripe pear, nectarines and spice. The palate is generous and moreish with fleshy pear and perfectly balanced acid and residual sugar. It’s fresh and bright with a creamy texture that adds weight and length.

| $22
→ more 1 View All Results in the Opawa Pinot Gris 2023 (Wairau, Marlborough) Tasting

Star ratings for this tasting

» How ratings work

  • Outstanding 5
  • Excellent 4
  • Very Good 8
  • Good 12
  • No Award 8
  • Total Entries 37