Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir

Tuesday 28th April

Well a few days have gone by and we are almost through harvest. Only the Cabernet Franc and the Syrah left to bring in now. We are still enjoying a marvellous run of fine weather, and the quality of fruit coming in remains high. All the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris ferments are under way and looking good, and I’ll talk in future posts about how we manage the ferments for optimum quality. But today I thought I’d talk a little about these two varieties.

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines produced predominantly from Pinot noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black" alluding to the varietals' tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit. Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France and, increasingly, New Zealand, where wines that match their Northern Hemisphere cousins are making their mark. Pinot Noir is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

Pinot Gris is a white wine grape variety of the same species, Vitis vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot Noir grape, it normally has a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name ("gris" meaning "grey" in French) but the grape can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. The wines produced from this grape also vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is known as Pinot Grigio.

Interestingly, the DNA profiles of both Pinot Gris and Blanc are identical to Pinot Noir. Pinot Gris is a bud sport of Pinot noir, presumably representing a somatic mutation in either the VvMYBA1 or VvMYBA2 genes that control grape colour. Pinot Blanc may represent a further mutation of Pinot Gris. (Source: Wikipaedia)