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Growing Pinot Gris in the Waitaki Valley

Harvesting Pinot Gris in our Lakeside Vineyard, April 2020
Harvesting Pinot Gris in our Lakeside Vineyard, April 2020

What can be said about pinot gris that hasn’t been said before? We all know it’s a pink skinned mutation of pinot noir, booted out of Burgundy for being impure and reintroduced back into France via Hungary and Germany thanks to General Ruland.

We also know it’s an early ripening variety capable of tremendous flavour concentration when treated with respect. We know it is suited to the southern latitudes of New Zealand where it retains all important acidity.

What we may not be too aware of is that up until 20 years ago, we had very little clonal material to choose from. We began planting pinot gris at Ostler just as it began to take off and were fortunate to have access to some spectacularly good old and new clones. We have it planted in two sites: Lakeside on stony alluvium and at Clos Ostler on limestone. Occasionally we either buy grapes from blocks or lease blocks in different parts of the valley to add to our range of gris grapes to work with.

So what makes ours so special? Well, for all the reasons above and from the efforts of our viticultural team who work endlessly perfecting the art of growing these grapes. Then, in the cellar, where we treat it as the full bodied varietal that it is with high solids ferments, a smattering of large format barrel ferment, extended lees contact and a pretty fussy eye for detail. So the result is this trio of gris, what is the collective noun - gris’, gris’s, grises?

The Ostler Waitaki Valley Pinot Gris is hand picked, tank fermented and made in an easy drinking grigio style. The Audrey’s is quite a different animal, grown on limestone, partially barrel fermented and lees aged to give rich texture but in a dry style. And then there’s the Lakeside, our precious little 457 clone that makes the most insanely concentrated, ripe, luscious style that makes friends wherever it goes.

So you could say we’ve got our gris bases covered from fine boned, silky and aromatic to full bodied, lipsmacking goodness! Do yourselves a  favour and dive into our pinot gris mixed case; it’ll be a fascinating journey!

by Jeff Sinnott



 

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