Tricky circumstances resulted in unpredictable pinot gris this year – MARY-THERESE BLAIR explains why.
Poor Pinot Gris, sometimes it just can’t catch a break and 2020 was no different with gris – much like the rest of us – a victim of COVID-19. The outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown coincided with New Zealand wine harvest. Wineries, unsure about whether or not the government would allow picking, were trapped in a place of extreme uncertainty and genuinely founded fears of potentially losing their entire crop. This meant that in some cases pinot gris grapes were picked as much as two weeks earlier than expected. Grapes picked too early can lack flavour and require more intervention in the winery. This will mean that the quality of 2020-vintage gris will vary and that, alongside the fact that gris is already made in a range of styles and sweetness levels, might cause your brain to reel. Here to help, the Cuisine panel have picked what they think are the best of the best that’s available, to help make your summer gris choices that bit easier.
Whitehaven owners Greg and Sue White made a huge lifestyle change in the 1990s when they embarked on ocean adventures on their yacht Chanticleer. While sailing in the Pacific they sought shelter from hurricane season in the calm Marlborough Sounds and were inspired to pursue another dream, this time on dry land. Whitehaven was that new dream. Harvested mostly by hand between mid-March and the start of April, the grapes for this wine were smaller than usual, as a result of a hot, dry summer and a lower crop. These smaller berries, however, meant greater intensity of flavour and a softer acid profile in the wine. Once fermented, yeast lees were stirred through regularly to help achieve textural characters in the wine, and also to develop the silky creaminess present on the palate that so appealed to our judges. The wine has a beautiful perfume of redapple skin, spice and rose petals on the nose which follow through and feel layered on the palate along with notes of gingerbread. The wine has complexity due to the pert yet soft acidity that brings everything together. A seductive, smartly crafted wine with the essential nuances of great gris.
Heady aromas of cinnamon spice and Bosc pear on the nose also …2
Delicate lifted aromatics on the nose show off ripe Granny Smith and …3
Baked pear, cinnamon and spice on the nose lure you into your …4
A very poised and precise example. Crab apples with spice and apple …5
Taut and racy with bright-green, lime-acid edginess, salted citrus and green-skinned pear. …6
Lively freshness that on the nose where pungent aromas of green spice, …7
A rich, aromatic style with strong stone fruit, ripe pear and a …8
Juicy, red, crunchy apples balanced with opulent spice give this wine instant …9