Pinot Gris has the potential to be the next big trend to come out of New Zealand, claims Jack Glover, Accolade Wines’ New Zealand sales and marketing director with particular responsibility for driving it Mud House brand.
You would think considering the success the Mud House brand has had, particularly in the UK, over the last two years that Jack Glover would be quite content with how well its take on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in key export markets around the world.
Not a bit of it. He, like many a leading New Zealand wine figure, is only too aware that having all your eggs in the proverbial Sauvignon Blanc basket is not necessarily a good move for long term future growth.
Which is why he is particularly keen to push the merits of Pinot Gris which he believes could soon be following in Sauvignon Blanc’s wake in key export markets like the UK.
“We think the opportunity for New Zealand in the on-trade after Sauvignon Blanc is Pinot Gris. We can make such a textured style here that we think it has great potential,” Glover told The Buyer.
If it does then New Zealand certainly has the firepower to capitalise on any demand that Pinot Gris might bring.
Plantings of Pinot Gris mean it is now only behind Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and is triple those of Riesling.
In the last 16 years the amount of Pinot Gris in New Zealand has gone from only 130 hectares in 2000 to 2,473 hectares in 2016, according to Mike Cooper’s New Zealand Wines’ Buyer’s Guide.
“So we have the vineyard strength to export it,” he added.
Pinot Grigio? No this is Pinot Gris
He admits the Pinot Grigio connection with Pinot Gris is not helpful, but insists New Zealand’s version of the much maligned grape is chalk and cheese with its Italian counterpart.
“It is more rich in style and has weight and texture to it than you just don’t see in a traditional Italian Pinot Grigio. You see the same difference between Syrah and Shiraz.
Glover said its Waipara Hills on-trade brand is particularly well suited to Pinot Gris in that although it is largely grown inland, in the northern part of the South Island, it still benefits from coastal temperatures and weather patterns.
Its clay and gravel stones give a nice “boney structure” to the wine, added Glover. “It also has a nice spice to it, but is very approachable.”
Another key selling point its Pinot Gris has going for it, is Brand New Zealand, claimed Glover.
“I think we have earned the right to be seen as a country that produces consistently high quality wines. We can offer reliability at that premium level, and I think Pinot Gris is just waiting to exploit that.”
He added: “It is really a case of buyers in the on-trade being willing to give it a go. But there is certainly growing interest.”
Equally Riesling can offer very similar attributes if it was not ham strung by the perception many drinkers have towards it.
“If you called it something other than Riesling then it would sell very well,” said Glover.
“Albarino is also doing very well in New Zealand so it will be interesting to see how that develops. All in all it means growers and buyers certainly have a lot of options.”