Knowing that Pinot Noir grew well in Eden Valley meant that its cousin, Pinot Gris, should also grow well and we had the vineyard to do it.
Again another first for Irvine, and Eden Valley as we planted our Pinot Gris in the mid 1990s.
As it happens our Pinot Gris grows on our highest, the windiest, the worst gravel patch on the whole of Springhill, aptly named ‘Heartbreak Hill’, and yet it loves it there. Our decision to follow the Alsace style of wine was easy for we have so little of it (about a hectare) and therefore it is better suited to make the rarer style rather than the Grigio.
We ripen our fruit to around 14 degrees, maintain the lower natural acidity if in balance, ferment cool, and sit our wine on the lees, stirring weekly. The taste alone determines the time on lees and when the textural reward is sufficient we clear our wine and bottle it. The lees contact time is about four months, usually.
Characteristics: here we look for softness, fullness, richness rather than crispness. We find flavours similar to green Packham pears when fully ripe. There is so much fruit in the taste without sugar, and deep unctuous flavour, leaving the palate clean and rewarded.
Our Pinot Gris is very much a food wine with no oak and lower acidity to cut across the complexity of any particular dish. As an aperitif our Pinot Gris is very satisfying, again the depth of flavour and its soft rewarding flowing nature plays a major role.
Pinot Gris will age well when made in this style as it has all the necessary components of higher alcohol and soft tannins (the soft pressings are added back) to assist with graceful ageing.
The colour may have the slightest tinge of pink when first released but this soon turns to gold. Remember it is a pink, light red skinned grape, so don’t be surprised if there is a ‘blush’.
As to food match – everything! Truly a red drinkers’ white!