Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and most in often in California) is closely related to Pinot Noir, and is often described as a mutant clone. It has a gray skin (hence the name Gris' which means gray in French) as opposed to Pinot Noir's much darker skin. It appears in the historical record at roughly the same time as Pinot Noir in the 1200's. It and its siblings are extremely prone to mutation. The 'Pinot' in Pinot Gris refers to 'Pine' and is generally believed to be associated with the shape of the grape cluster resembling a pinecone.
Pinot Gris is a very recent arrival in the United States, likely as recently as the 1960s. In Oregon and Washington, it's generally still known as Pinot Gris but in California, it's almost always called Pinot Grigio due to the warmer climate which produces a wine with characteristics closer to the Italian style. Like virtually all 'Pinot' Varietals, it is a difficult vine with which to grow quality grapes. It requires even cooler evenings than Pinot Noir but does require some warmth in during the day.
Californian Pinto Grigio is often lighter in both color and flavor than the Pinot Gris produced in the Pacific Northwest. Whether the wine is made in a slightly heavier Pinot Gris style or a lighter crisper Pinot Grigio, they are almost always released quite soon after bottling (relative to most other wines) and aren't usually designed for aging.
The flavor or Pinot Gris is best described as crisp, slightly acidic with a apple or pear overtones. Wines called Pinot Grigio are often lighter and lack some of the apple or pear characteristics but can be more refreshing and are often served slightly colder in the manner of other crisp Italian white wines.
* used in California
Show Me Wineries That Are Selling This Wine With Expanded Listings On Winery-Sage.com
(Please click on the Winery name for more information)