Pinot Gris is a variety many love to hate, the main reason being you don’t know what you are going to get when you open the bottle and pour the wine in the glass, and indeed with this particular wine I wasn’t even sure what I had in the glass that the wine pourer handed me. The signs were confusing and I was being pulled in several directions.
The colour was golden with a glossy gem-like lustre and the eyes were interpreting Chardonnay.
Then the scent – full-on with the succulence of apricot and the tropical allure of dried pineapple, sweet spices and funky wild yeast nuances – an alternative Sauvignon Blanc maybe?
But the taste had me veering off in an entirely different direction – so rich, so luscious, so exotic. Delicious fleshy stonefruit with a delectable touch of spiciness and definitely no canned pea – just textural and mouthcoating with some lovely clean citrus in behind and a tingling vibrancy, and though the fruit was ripe and sweet, the lingering finish was dry. In fact it was Alsace-like in some respects and Gewurztraminer was a niggling thought at the back of my mind. But I didn’t want to go in the Gewurztraminer direction because the nose didn’t initially steer me there. Perhaps something with a smidgen of Gewurztraminer in it? Maybe. Some winemakers have been known to add a splash of Gewurztraminer to Pinot Gris and legally a ‘splash’ doesn’t have to be disclosed. Or it could simply be Pinot Gris at the very ripe end of its spectrum. Yes, very ripe, with perhaps even some botrytis in there.
And it all made sense when the wine was revealed. Main Divide Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2012 from the highly regarded producer Pegasus Bay.
The Main Divide website tells the rest of the story. Being a very cool summer the grapes were picked over several passes through the blocks during April and May, those picked latest in the season developing a small amount of noble botrytis. The result a balance of ripe fruit and natural acidity. The grapes were gently pressed and the juice fermented at cool temperatures and then given a short period of ageing on its natural yeast lees. Some of this was done in old barrels to help fill out the mouth feel, add texture and give complexity without adding any oak flavour.
Outstanding Pinot Gris in my book – the kind of wine I like to drink.
Our dinner accompaniment was sliced smoked salmon pieces pan-fried for mere seconds each side and served atop potatoes mashed with the wine pourer’s delicious mayo/yoghurt/garlic dressing, then the pan juices poured over. An alternative to pasta – and gluten free. Okay, so the wine could be a little powerful for this dish but there was no clash of flavours.
I looked up where you can buy this rich, powerful, luscious, rendition of Pinot Gris. Main Divide directs you to the Pegasus Bay online shop where it has an RRP of $19.95, but it’s available round the traps for a few dollars cheaper. I’ve seen it for $15.99.
Links were correct at the time of posting.