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Pinot Gris (also popularly known as Pinot Grigio) is a white grape variety that is part of the Pinot family that includes Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. The berry skins of Pinot Gris tend to be rose-colored, and the resulting wines are often deep golden yellow in appearance.
There are two main types of Pinot Gris wines. Within France (and especially Alsace), the wines are spicy and full-bodied. This is a result of the relatively cool climate and the volcanic soils. In addition, the autumns are dry without a lot of moisture, and that helps to impart a very powerful flavor to these wines. Within Italy, however, the Pinot Grigio wines are lighter-bodied and more acidic. In Italy, Pinot Grigio is harvested early to retain the light, refreshing acidity.
In the mid-2000s, Pinot Gris experienced a resurgence worldwide, thanks in large part to the excellent new Pinot Gris wines being produced in New World wine nations. For example, Australia and New Zealand have emerged as major new wine producing centers for Pinot Gris, as have Washington State, Oregon and California within the United States. Chile, too, now has Pinot Gris producers within the Casablanca Valley. These New World expressions of Pinot Gris often include fruit-forward flavors suggesting tropical fruits such as melon or mango.
Within Europe, the most popular regions for Pinot Gris include Baden and Palatinate in Germany; Burgundy, the Loire Valley and Alsace in France; and Trentino in Italy.
Pinot Gris actually has a long history dating back to the medieval era. At that time, it was a personal favorite of Emperor Charles IV. The first great Pinot Gris wines appeared in France’s legendary Burgundy region.