I have very clear thoughts on many wine styles and varietals – as far as personal consumption is concerned I seek many out, while others I tend to avoid. Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio dominate my avoid list for the simple reason that in most cases they do not have enough acidity for my taste. This makes them feel unbalanced, hot and bitter to me. However, I try to keep an open mind and so try some every now and again for professional interest.
Well I recently tried that rarest of all creatures, a Pinot Gris that I found to be delicious!
2009 Mud House South Island Pinot Gris
The colour had an attractive touch of peach skin blush to it giving a coppery look, not pink though.
On the nose it had ripe pear, sweet spice and fresh floral notes.
The palate was rich and succulent with creamy ripe peaches and nectarines dominating with little flecks flecks of white pepper and enough acidity and freshness to keep it clean and balnaced. A tiny touch of residual sugar – 6g/L – also balanced the palate making the mouthfeel generous and rich, while the finish was long fleshy and clean.
If you are used to Pinot Grigio you will be astonished by the richness and juicy fruit here. It does have something of an Alsace Pinot Gris about, but the amazingly clean and vibrant character of the wine could never come from Europe, only new Zealand.
Much to my surprise I really enjoyed tasting this wine, it delivered lots of deliciousness in a balanced whole – dry, but not too dry, rich, but not too rich, fruity, but not too fruity – you get the picture – 90/100 points.
Wondering why I enjoyed this when the delights of this grape generally pass me by – whether written in French or Italian as Pinot Grigio, I decided it came down to careful winemaking and blending. This wine comes from three different grape sources – hence the name ‘South Island’ rather than a more specific place of origin. The wine is a blend of fruit from Nelson and Waipara as well as the more famous Marlborough. As the name of the wine implies these are all in South Island – see the map – and so are cool places with a long slow growing season that builds ripeness and keeps acid balance in the grapes. I suspect it is the length of the growing season and acid retention that makes this wine so attractive to my palate. On top of this Waipara has especially thin soils, mainly gravel, that helps minerality and elegance which is possibly crucial to me liking the finished wine.
I enjoyed it on its own, but I can see it going with a Caesar Salad, as well as many other types of salad and cold collation – the fruity quality and succulence could almost serve in place of a relish or pickle.
On this showing I will have to experiment with more many more examples of Pinot Gris from New Zealand.
£10.25 a bottle from Stone, Vine & Sun