Some time in the 1990s, on a trip to Strasbourg, I discovered I rather liked a wine called "Tokay Pinot Gris". In the intervening 20 years, the EU have removed the historic name "tokay" from Alsace Pinot Gris, but they've never dampened my enthusiasm for this tropical, rich, almost "honey & spice" white wine, which can range from dry through super sweet.
Despite years studying wine, and appreciating differences in climate, terroir, & winemaking styles, my logical mind, as well as my heart, has grappled with the fact that this same, pink skinned grape produces some of the least interesting (to me) wines on the market: Pinot Grigio.
Before the PG lovers write in to tell me that there are good Grigios out there, I know... The Alto Adige is where to look, I've been told. Many times. Let's not bring the facts into this.
Despite the wild variation in worldwide Chardonnay styles, the pronounced differences between wines styled as Syrah & Shiraz, and a pricey WSET education, I just can't bring myself to buy something labelled Pinot Grigio. Pinot Gris, on the other hand...
I had heard of Pinot Gris being grown in England, but not much of it had come my way. Until now. And at just the right time. As Mr Purple Teeth was setting off on extended travels, what better send off than an English wine? He's not much of a fizz fan. A perfect opportunity to try Bolney Estate's Pinot Gris (£17.50 from The Wine Society).
Poor Mr Purple Teeth had to go through the palaver of blind tasting before the big reveal. "A lively little wine with pineapple and grapefruit."
"Is that good?" I asked.
"Yes! It's complex," (that's Mr PT's byword for "bloody good")... "It starts tropical then, there is grapefruit pith, and it finishes to a kind of lime acidity."
Blimey! Which one of us went to WSET?
Imagine his shock when he found out it was English. On establishing the price (a lot more than our normal Tuesday night wines), he even suggested having it again. England, we have a winner. (Good, I need him to come back from his travels.)
At 11% abv, it's a touch sweeter than most whites we drink regularly, but the lower alcohol level is welcome as an aperitif. I'm tired of being declared a binge drinker before I've even started dinner.
It's a fruit forward style, and a bit more acidic than is expected from an Alsace example. Nor does it hit that Italian "neutral" style. Bolney have introduced me and set the bar for my expectations of English PG.
It's full of juicy grapefruit but without the bitternes, lifted by a zesty lime undertone. Though there is a faint honeyed sweetness it's off dry, rather than sickly.
I doubt I'd have fared better than Mr PT in a blind tasting, either. All that matters, though, is that it's Very Good Wine. And we say, "buy it now." I hope they've got some left.