Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Gris - a delightful WSET Diploma practice tasting...

Tonight's WSET Diploma practice tasting featured 4 delightful wines: 2 x pinot grigio from Italy and 2 x pinot gris from Alsace.

Delightful because they were, let's face it, above average quality and, no matter what some "expert" say about pinot grigio, were lip-smacking to the full sense of the word. It was, in fact, a pity that we tasted them in a classroom and not around a nice tasty dinner.

We tasted:

Wine 1: Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2009
Wine 2: Livon Collio Pinot Griogio 2009
Wine 3: Domaine Valentin Zusslin Bollenberg Pinot Gris 2006
Wine 4: Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2007

Here are my notes:

a= appearance n= nose p=palate c= conclusion

Wine 1
a= pale lemon with watery rim
n= restrained, mineral (salty wet rocks), apple flesh, fresh almonds, citrus notes, touch floral & apricot. slight cream. medium intensity, youthful and a wide spectrum of aromatics.
p= dry, medium+ acidity, medium+ alcohol (13.5%), medium+ body, broad, more mineral & salty on the palate. balanced. bitter and medium+ length of the after-taste.
c= very good. wide spectrum of aromatics, elegant, fresh & crisp, defined (fruit & origin), good length, delicious.

Wine 2
a= medium lemon with watery rim
n= restrained, ripe fruits, peach, fresh almond, creamy/leesy, touch of honey. medium- intensity, youthful with a mid-range aromatic spectrum.
p= dry, medium acidity, medium alcohol (12,5%), medium+ body, broad, even a little fat. medium- intensity, flavors as nose. medium length. a little heavy on the finish.
c= good. mid-range aromatics, decent length, even if restrained, defined aromatics (grape & origin).

Wine 3
a= medium- gold with watery rim
n= very ripe pineapple, honey, dried apricot, spices, earthy/musky, apple flesh. touch caramel. marmalade. notes (integrated) of oxidation. wide spectrum or aromatics. complex & complicated. unusual. developed.
p= off-dry, medium+ acidity, medium alcohol (13%), medium + body, broad & weighty. dried apricot, orange/lemon skin, musky, spices. bitter & tertiary notes. slightly heavy. medium+ length.
c= very good. wide spectrum of aromatics and complex. a very good length of after-taste. but very complicated and unusual. heaviness prevents me from giving it an "outstanding" score...

Wine 4
a= medium gold with watery rim
n= restrained, ripe, elegant, integrated, pineapple apricot, quince paste, pear and touch of honey. earthy note & sour lemony zest. medium - intensity (refined), developing, mid-range aromatics.
p= dry, medium+ acidity, medium+ alcohol (13.5%), medium + body, broad, heavy but light. medium intensity dried apricot skin, ripe pineapple, touch of honey. complex. well balanced. medium+ length.
c= very good. elegant, well defined (grape + origin). complex and decent range of aromatics.. a good length.

To me, these 4 wines were all "bankers". Meaning that, in the context of an exam, they would be quintessential of their kinds. Unmissable by the majority of tasters. A great many markers point to grape and origin.

For Italy, we have here the crisp nature of the fruit and mouthfeel. Emphasis on refreshment and lift with minerality, crisp white flesh fruits and nuts (apple, pear, almond) and floral notes Slight bitterness. A wine to enjoy at the beginning of a meal or as an appetizer with cheeses and cured meats. To set you in the mood of the evening to come. To loosen the poet in you making you talkative and more approachable...

For Alsace, we have a more serious wine. Heavier with riper & spicier notes. Complex wines to match the first course of dinner. We discussed foie-gras. Especially wine #3 which was slightly off-dry showing complex notes of fruit and oxidation (all integrated and delicious). Wine # 4 was more typical with weight, ripe fruits, and spices.

A delightful tasting. Certainly one to make think that Pinot Grigio can be complex and delicious and that Pinot Gris can be an excellent alternative to Sauterne for foie gras...especially if you do not particularly enjoy sweet wine at the beginning of a meal...