The biddies were inspired by their conversation with William and Karen of Two Shepherds Winery to dive deeper into the (kind of confusing) world of gray grapes. The biddies are convinced they are their own category but there does seem to be some debate in the wine world. Also, they’re not actually all that gray in color. Tune in to learn about Pinot Gris and all its gray grape friends.
We’re also on Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Player.fm, Overcast, CastBox and iVox
Matador Network, Moroccan Gray Wine
Wine Folly, Red Wine VS. White Wine
Wine Searcher, Pinot Gris
World’s Best Wines, Grey Riesling
Tank Garage Winery, What the Heck is Trousseau Gris?
Wine Searcher, Grenache Gris
Wine Cellar Insider, Sauvignon Gris Wine Grapes
Please note some of these notes may be directly copied and pasted from above sources.
Study notes for Gray Grapes:
- We’ve talked about how red grapes mostly make red wines and white grapes mostly make white wines
- Excepting fun things with skin contact like blanc de noirs
- We recently learned more about gray grapes – do gray grapes make gray wine?
- Ampelographers believe that the first Vitis vinifera grapes were black grapes (e.g. red wine grapes) and that a natural mutation created the first white grapes
- For example, Pinot Noir (a black grape), Pinot Gris (a pinkish-gray grape), and Pinot Blanc (a white grape) all share the same DNA!
What Are Gray Grapes
- There is some confusion about whether gray grapes are their own category
- In research most were often referred to as white grapes and sometimes referred to as red grapes
- They tend to be mutations of red and sometimes white varietals and have a skin color ranging from dusky gray to rose to somewhat lighter than a full-on red grape
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio (most popular)
What it is
- Pinot Gris is a white-wine grape originally from the vineyards of Burgundy
- now found in wine regions all over the world.
- For wines in the pale, light style popularized in late 20th-Century Italy, the variety is typically referred to by the Italian name Pinot Grigio.
- A member of the extended Pinot family of grape varieties, Pinot Gris is a pink-skinned mutation of Pinot Noir. The two varieties are indistinguishable in the vineyard right up until veraison.
- The adjective gris is French for “gray”, and refers to the dusty, light-gray sheen the grapes often take on.
Where it’s grown / what it’s like
- Baden and Pfalz in Germany and, particularly
- the Alsace region in France. In these regions
- the wines are made in varying levels of sweetness, from bone dry to lusciously sweet. A Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Nobles from Alsace is one of the sweetest, most intensely flavored wines on earth.
- The Pinot Grigio wines of Alto Adige – Südtirol in northern Italy can certainly contradict the notion that all wines with “Grigio” on the label are light and simple.
- This is especially so with the brightly rich, floral examples from Bolzano and the Oltradige. It can also apply to the mineral-laden bottlings from the Adige Valley.
- Of the New World wine regions, the variety is most prominent in the United States. Oregon leads the way but Washington State and California are also important.
- A wide range of styles at varying price points are made in New Zealand where it is the third most-planted white grape. However, it represents only six percent of national wine production, and two percent of exports. Wine labels tend to reflect the distinction between the Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio styles.
Trousseau Gris (Grey Riesling)
- Seems to really be a CA thing
- In the regions of France, this grape variety is commonly known as Trousseau Grape. Grey Riesling is a variety of white wine grape which is nothing but a white mutation of the red grape called Trousseau.
- This variety of white wine grape has been planted for long in the regions of California. However, in the recent times, this variety of white wine grape is said to have lost its ground as of the beginning of the 20th century.
- Now mostly only found at Fanucchi Vineyard
- Planted in 1981, this Russian River Valley vineyard is home to the last plantings of Trousseau Gris in the US. Gaining access to Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard’s scarce fruit is like finding the holy grail.
- Now mostly only found at Fanucchi Vineyard
What Is It
- Grenache Gris is a pinkish-grey mutation of the red Grenache grape and is grown to a limited extent in the south of France.
- Little research has been conducted into the history of Grenache Gris and the variety remains in relative obscurity.
- It tends to appear in the vineyard only among other Grenache bush vines and is often indiscriminately blended into other wines.
- Seems to mostly be grown in France
What It’s Like
- Like its family members Grenache and Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris is vigorous, resistant to drought and prefers warm, dry environments.
- Varietal wines made from Grenache Gris are something of a rarity and a winemaker’s indulgence, since there is little commercial gain to be made from producing them.
- The wines tend to show apricot and stonefruit aromas with a full, sometimes oily palate. In this way they are similar to Viognier, minus the lavender and herbaceous notes that make Viognier so distinctive.
What Is It
- Sauvignon Gris is perhaps the most obscure grape in the entire Bordeaux wine appellation. The grape came close to being extinct following the phylloxera epidemic.
- Today, not much is planted. Out of all the white wine grapes used for the production of Bordeaux wine, only 2% are devoted to Sauvignon Gris.
- The history of Sauvignon Gris is sketchy. Researchers think it is an interesting mutation of Sauvignon Blanc. The original name for the grape variety was Fie Gris.
Where It’s Grown
- The grape was almost nonexistent until it was rediscovered by Jacky Preys, a grower and winemaker from the Loire Valley.
- Jacky Preys is one of the few producers making wine from 100% Sauvignon Gris.
- Not many vineyards from any country use Sauvignon Gris. Most of it is found in Chile, Bordeaux, Australia, and New Zealand.
What It’s Like
- Interestingly, the grape is used for blending in France. French AOC law dictates that wineries are not allowed to bottle it as a single varietal. However, in Bordeaux, Chateau de Bellevue makes wine from 100% Sauvignon Gris.
- Sauvignon Gris pairs well with all types of fish, shellfish and cheese. Sauvignon Gris also makes a good wine and food match with lighter roasted or grilled white meats.
SOUVIGNIER GRIS (Austria)
Frontenac Gris (Cold-hardy hybrid?)
To make things extra confusing, there is such a thing as “gray wine” and it’s not made from gray grapes.
What is it
- A style of wine similar to rose (or sometimes described as a style of rose) made from red grapes but with very little skin contact
- vin gris is made from red grapes in a style most associated with white wine practices
- after the juice of red grapes is pressed out, there’s little-to-no maceration with the skins, meaning the pressed liquid doesn’t mix with the solids for long.
- The color of red wine comes from the grape skins, and for vin gris, the short skin contact adds just a clear, faintly pink hue.
- Typically dranken chilled like rose
Where is it made
- France – mostly with pinot noir and gamay varietals (Burgundy)
- Morocco – mostly with Rhone varietals
- Morocco’s northern parts in the zone of Fes, Meknes, and Berkane offer favorable conditions for winemaking. Sheltered by the Atlas mountains and open to the cooling influence of the Atlantic, these regions are perfect for the growth of red Rhone varieties like syrah, grenache, and carignan, which are the building blocks of vin gris.