Maybe you’ve been drinking Italian pinot grigio all summer long, but with fall around the corner, it’s time to change just a little — to French pinot gris. Pinot gris is the original French name for the grape the Italians call pinot grigio. The best pinot gris’ come from the region of Alsace. These are rich whites, bursting with bold flavor, and they’re among the most intriguing white wines in the world.
Alsace’s cool northern climate helps the grapes retain acidity, and the long growing season allows the sugars to develop, so that the grapes attain that magical combination of high acidity and high sugar, which create a powerfully rich wine with a backbone of acidity strong enough to support the wine’s full body. The flavors of Alsace pinot gris can include bitter almonds, peach, ginger, vanilla, smoke, earth, and licorice. The wines are most often dry, but a tiny number are made into luscious dessert wines as well.
Pinot gris from Alsace is in fact so full of body and character that it is often paired with meat. There is nothing quite like a pork roast paired with a powerfully charged Alsatian pinot gris. A final note. Pinot gris originated in Burgundy, France, as a clone (genetic mutation) of pinot noir. Like pinot noir, it’s now grown in many places in the world, including California and Oregon where some producers (usually the wineries making big bold wines) use the name pinot gris, and others (making a lighter style) use the name pinot grigio.
Here are three of the best Alsace pinot gris and they are some of our favorites: