A great Tassie Pinot Gris: Grey Sands Pinot Gris 2008

When I visited Australia in 2004, I recall that just about every producer whipped out a Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris – both synonyms used. 

Characterful PGs were, and have remained, few and far between so I was thrilled to come across Grey Sands Pinot Gris 2008 from Glengarry Tasmania, one of the best examples of PG I’ve tasted from Down Under.  And Pinot Gris is apt because, with plenty of body, tang and spice, it’s quite Alsace-like. 

I’m sure owners Rita & Bob Richter will be pleased at my analogy.  Bob, a former dentist, had fallen in love with the Alsatian ones they’d tried which is why Pinot Gris was one of the first vareties they planted in their fine grey sand over clay soils (pictured). 

Rita told me that their aim is to produce full bodied wines, suitable for cellaring  –  she says “ageing imparts an intense aroma of honey to our Gris which makes you think it will be sweet, but all of our wines are fermented to dryness.” 

Since 2003, the wines have been made by Fran Austin at Bay of Fires winery and the Pinot Gris is fermented with indigenous yeast in old oak barrels and left on lees for at least 6 months with minimal stirring.  It usually goes through malolactic fermentation naturally. Here’s my tasting note:

Grey Sands Pinot Gris 2008 (Tasmania) – ripe, juicy pear nose with hints of banana which follow through on the beautifully textured, leesy almost waxy palate with lots of gingery spice (skin contact?). . It’s not shy on alcohol either at 14.6% abv but juicy acidity, a leesy freshness and spicy skin contact bring balance and persistence.  Very good.  Sadly for us not exported!

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