Pinot Gris

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Pinot Gris is the widely disseminated, fashionable vine variety (see pinot grigio) that can produce soft, gently perfumed wines with more substance and colour than most whites, which is what one might expect of a variety that is one of the best-known mutations of pinot noir. If Pinot Noir berries are purplish blue and the berries of the related pinot blanc are greenish yellow, Pinot Gris grapes are anything between greyish blue and brownish pink—sometimes on the same bunch. In the vineyard, this vine can easily be taken for Pinot Noir for the leaves are identical and, especially late in a ripe year, the berries can look remarkably similar. At one time, Pinot Gris habitually grew in among the Pinot Noir of many Burgundian vineyards, adding softness and sometimes acidity to its red wine. Even today, as Pinot Beurot, it is sanctioned as an ingredient in most of Burgundy’s red wine appellations and the occasional vine can still be found in some of the region’s famous red wine vineyards. It was traditionally prized for its ability to soften Pinot Noir musts but older clones have a tendency to yield very irregularly.