Three Distinct Pinot Styles to Try

While they are in the same family, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc all produce distinct wines. Here are the bottles to look for.
Pinot Noir / Getty

When looking at and tasting Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio (Gris) and Pinot Blanc, it might be surprising to learn that all these grape varieties are in the same family.

Pinot Gris, a greyish purple clone of Pinot Noir, produces light-bodied white wines with flavors that can range from fruity to citrusy. Pinot Blanc produces full-bodied whites, some of which spend time in oak. Lastly, there’s Pinot Noir, the grape that started it all. With origins in Burgundy, this red grape has spread across the world to produce a range of styles: from rich and fruity to delicate and earthy.

So, no matter your preferred Pinot style, there’s a bottle for you to enjoy. Here are some of our favorites.

What Does it Mean When the Same Grape has Different Names?

Pinot Noir

Rusack 2015 Mt. Carmel Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills); $65, 95 points. Extremely light yet lovely aromas of hibiscus, pomegranate, strawberry, wet slate and sagebrush show on the nose of this bottling from an iconic vineyard atop the appellation. The palate balances tannic weight with acidic energy, carrying flavors of white pepper, fresh thyme and fresh pomegranate and hibiscus, going down easy but with circumstance. —Matt Kettmann

Heinrich Hartl 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir (Thermenregion); $36, 94 points. This wine’s heady Amarena cherry and violet aromas signal both ripeness and complexity. Subtle smoky oak frames the tender fruit and presents a rich but toned palate where every nuance is defined. Freshness runs like a faultline. Smoke, black cherry, violet and licorice notes take turns in dazzling the senses. This remains elegant in spite of the well-corseted power of the 2015 vintage. Drink 2020–2030. KW Selection.—Anne Krebiehl

Quartz Reef 2016 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir (Central Otago); $45, 91 points. From the warmer subregion of Bendigo, this wine has an approachable and rather pretty nose of potpourri, plush strawberries, cherries, tomato leaf, vanilla and baking spice, with Quartz Reef’s signature hot stones earthiness. The palate is taut and structured with a spine of fine-grained tannins, focused acidity and warm oak notes. This is made to age and barrel influences should settle with time. Drink now–2024. Wine Dogs Imports LLC. —Christina Pickard

Hosmer 2016 Pinot Noir (Cayuga Lake); $25, 90 points. A mossy, earthy nose carries to a palate of tart red cherry and pink peppercorn. Medium in weight, there’s a soft grip to the tannins that offer plenty of texture and support. This is a tight and dry Pinot Noir that will blossom with a few years in the bottle. Drink from 2020. —Alexander Peartree

Undurraga 2016 Sibaris Gran Reserva Pinot Noir (Leyda Valley); $15, 88 points. Dark in color, this offers cherry and plum aromas that show a hint of oak. It’s medium to full in body, with plum, raspberry and dry oak flavors. A mix of red fruit notes and oak concludes this robust Pinot Noir. Maritime Wine Trading Collective. —Michael Schachner

Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio / Getty

Pinot Grigio/ Gris 

Martin Schaetzel 2016 Roche Granitique Pinot Gris (Alsace); $26, 93 points. Smoky, flinty reduction still envelopes the nose. Underneath, however, a wine of great purity and freshness stretches its fruity-fresh balance from ripe pear to vivid lemon. The palate is rich but taut, attaining honeyed overtones but remaining chiseled and bone dry. Intriguing now, it’s full of promise. Drink now–2028. Golden Vines. —A.K.

Durant 2016 Southview Pinot Gris (Dundee Hills); $20, 91 points. Sourced from vines planted a quarter century ago, this stainless steel-aged white offers smooth and balanced fresh pear flavors, with refreshing, wet stone-like minerality. Light hints of garden herbs make it a model Pinot Gris with style, length and the ability to age. Drink now–2025. —Paul Gregutt

Venica & Venica 2016 Jesera Pinot Grigio (Collio); $22, 91 points. This fragrant copper-colored wine boasts enticing scents of acacia, Spanish broom, ripe orchard fruit and a whiff of wet stone. The elegantly structured savory palate evokes ripe Rennet apple, white peach and orange drop alongside tangy acidity. Grand Cru Selections. Editors’ Choice. —Kerin O’Keefe

Donkey & Goat 2016 Ramato Filigreen Farm Pinot Gris (Anderson Valley); $28, 90 points. Not at all what most would expect from a Pinot Gris, this wine is rosé in color, has plenty of body despite low alcohol and drinks almost like a Pinot Noir. The watermelon aromas and plummy, earthy flavors accompany a generous texture and nip of tannin. Biodynamic grapes were fermented with native yeast and not filtered. —Jim Gordon

McPherson Wine Company 2017 MWC Pinot Gris (Victoria); $16, 89 points. It’s a wonder what a little time on skins can do for Pinot Gris/Grigio. In this wine’s case it adds texture and character (and a slightly bronzed color, of course). Bitter almonds, honey, peach pits, red-apple skins, lychees and white pepper all shine through to the palate which is chalk-textured but full of zingy acidity. Still fairly tightly wound, it’ll be interesting to see this wine evolve over the next year or two. Hudson Wine Brokers. —C.P.

Pinot Blanc grapes
Pinot Blanc / Getty

Pinot Blanc

Terlan 2015 Vorberg Riserva Pinot Bianco (Alto Adige); $46, 93 points. This full-bodied white is a clear demonstration of the extraordinary potential of Pinot Bianco in Alto Adige. It opens with delicate white flower and ripe orchard fruit scents while the creamy palate delivers mature apple, yellow pear and juicy citrus notes. It’s well balanced, with tangy acidity and a savory mineral vein that further energizes the finish. Banville Wine Merchants. —K.O.K.

Wechsler 2016 Weissburgunder (Rheinhessen); $26, 92 points. A gorgeous array of mineral tones anchor this vivacious medium-bodied white wine. Ripe juicy tangerine and grapefruit flavors are accented by hints of pollen and dusty earth. While creamy and textured, it finishes lean with a bracing hit of lime acidity. Drink now through 2023. Valckenberg International, Inc. —Anna Lee C. Iijima

Dutton-Goldfield 2017 Dutton Ranch Shop Block Pinot Blanc (Green Valley); $30, 91 points. Mineral-driven, earthy and floral, this gorgeous white is elusive in fruit, youthfully demure and full of vigorous acidity. Lightly ripe peach and mango come into play midpalate, with a squeeze of lemon emphasizing the wine’s vibrancy on the finish. —Virginie Boone

Foris 2016 Pinot Blanc (Rogue Valley); $15, 90 points. The alpine conditions at Foris push this into a style that’s different from Willamette Valley Pinot Blancs. Bracing minerality drives this bus, with refreshing flavors of celery, cucumber and green melon. It’s persistent, squeaky clean and quite delightful. Best Buy. —P.G.

Domaines Vinsmoselle 2015 Côtes de Grevenmacher Premier Cru Pinot Blanc (Moselle Luxembourgeoise); $20, 90 points. Hailing from Luxembourg, this Pinot Blanc has aromas of lemon juice and freshly cut pineapple. The palate offers flavors of lemon curd, quince and a touch of vanilla. There’s also a hint of salinity on the soft and smooth finish. Ansay International, LLC. —Jeff Jenssen

Published on August 15, 2018
Topics: Pinot Party



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