A New Zealand Pinot Gris
When it comes to kiwi winemaking, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone talking about Pinot Gris . So, when consumers do talk about New Zealand wine, the mainstream topic is generally about Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. However, for the second year in a row Misty Cove Wines have released a Pinot Gris for the 2019 vintage.
Last year the Estate Pinot Gris 2018 took out the Gold Medal and and Champion Pinot Gris Trophy (the Brother Cyprian Trophy) at the New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards.
Chief Winemaker, Emmanuel Bolliger set to work on following up last year’s superstar wine and admits that while the varietal had a chequered history in New Zealand, he’s keen to set the standard on what a good kiwi Pinot Gris should be. That means a dash of vision, and a strong focus on maintaining a definitive style. The result is an exciting and enticing aromatic wine that is drier, and gives a lush and soft backbone.
Misty Cove Estate Pinot Gris 2018 got a lot of attention, taking out the Champion Pinot Gris at the NZ Wine Awards (and winning the Brother Cyprian Trophy). Was that an expected thing or was it...?
"I don't think as a wine maker you ever expect it. It’s always nice when you get it. But… you know, you work with the fruit that you've got and you take the best fruit and you do the best you can, and if you get rewarded in the end that's great."
Okay. But were you trying to make the best Pinot Gris at the time; what was your strategy?
"Well, the strategy is to make the best Pinot Gris that we can with the grapes we get given each vintage. It's as simple as that really."
How do you rate the 2019 Estate Pinot Gris versus 2018?
"Personally I think it’s on par... if not better."
Why even bother with this varietal, if it’s not really a big player for NZ wine?
"Admittedly, there's not a lot of Pinot Gris being made, and it’s also a varietal in New Zealand that's had checkered past because there was no defined style. Pinot Gris is most famous from Alsace, and is known in Italy as Pinot Grigio. But the Alsatian style is more defined and well-known.
"At Misty Cove we are trying to define a Pinot Gris style that is uniquely New Zealand. But I would say that we are making a Pinot Gris that is on the drier spectrum rather than sweet."
Tell us a little about the winemaking process for your Pinot Gris?
"The grapes are from two different vineyards in the Wairau and Awatare Valley. This means we get two different flavour profiles and we also pick them at different ripeness to give us better flavour profiles in the wine."
So, Pinot Gris – will that be part of Misty Cove's repertoire going forward?
"Absolutely. First vintage was 2018 and we had quite a good following, so we are hopeful this continues."
But again, New Zealand is known for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, why should people choose a Pinot Gris?
"Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will always be the mainstay. But I think our Pinot Gris is a refreshing alternative that is quite moreish to share with great mates and tasty food.
"But as I said: in the past NZ Pinot Gris has been a little bit of a hit and miss. And hopefully, now, if you drink Misty Cove it won't be a miss anymore. It'll be a hit."
What is Pinot Gris great drinking with?
"It can be enjoyed on its own, of course, or I think it goes really well with Asian food."