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This year's top pinot gris picks from New Zealand

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Our love affair with pinot gris shows no signs of abating. From 130 hectares of vines in 2000, plantings have skyrocketed to 2500ha today. A mutation of pinot noir, with skin colours ranging from blue-grey to reddish-pink, pinot gris is our third-most-planted white-wine variety, trailing only sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, and you can choose from more than 300 labels.

Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017 ••••½

Showing good personality, this is a full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), medium-dry style, still youthful, with generous, ripe, peachy, slightly spicy flavours, showing very good complexity, and a tightly structured, lingering finish. $30

Askerne Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2017 ••••½

Made in a mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), off-dry style, this ripely scented, Alsace-style wine is rich, with good concentration of stone-fruit, pear and spice flavours, a hint of ginger and a smooth finish. $23

Macro alias: ModuleRenderer

Awatere River by Louis Vavasour 2017 ••••

Grown mostly in the Awatere Valley, this fresh, vibrantly fruity wine is attractively scented and full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with pure, delicate pear and lychee flavours, some peachy, spicy notes and a dry finish. $21

Babich Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 ••••

Made in a dry style, this is a fragrant and fleshy, Alsace-style wine, mouthfilling (14% alc/vol), with generous, peachy, slightly spicy, vaguely honeyed flavours and a very harmonious, well-rounded finish. $22

Black Cottage Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 •••½

From Two Rivers, this instantly appealing, freshly scented wine is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), with good depth of pear, peach and spice flavours. Dryish and lively. $18

Blackenbrook Nelson Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Estate-grown and hand-harvested, this floral, finely textured wine is a medium-dry style, full-bodied (13% alc/vol), with fresh pear, lychee and spice flavours, showing excellent delicacy and depth. $25

Chard Farm Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017 ••••½

Already delicious, this impressive wine was hand-harvested in the Cromwell Basin. Full-bodied (13.9% alc/vol), it is vibrant and sweet-fruited, with generous, ripe peach, pear and spice flavours, balanced acidity and a dry, well-rounded finish. $27

Domain Road Defiance Bannock-burn Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Pale and perfumed, this single-vineyard, Central Otago wine was mostly handled in tanks; 14% was barrel fermented. Mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), with fresh pear and spice aromas, it is a vividly varietal, off-dry style, showing very good delicacy, depth and harmony. $25

Durvillea by Astrolabe Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 •••½

Bargain-priced, this is a full-bodied (13% alc/vol), dry style. Freshly scented, it has clearly varietal flavours of citrus fruit, pear and spices showing very good depth. $15

Georges Road Selection Waipara Pinot Gris 2017 •••••

Full of personality, this North Canterbury wine was fermented in old oak barrels. Mouthfilling (14% alc/vol), with stone-fruit and spice flavours, a vague hint of honey, and excellent complexity and richness; it’s a dry style that is already drinking well. $26

Greystone Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2017 •••••

Already delicious, this ripely scented wine is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and fleshy, with highly concentrated stone-fruit and spice flavours, a hint of ginger, good complexity, a creamy texture and a dry finish. Certified organic. $26

Greywacke Marlborough Pinot Gris 2016 •••••

This powerful, barrel-aged wine is fragrant, sturdy (14.5% alc/vol) and rich, with slightly sweet stone-fruit, ginger and spice flavours showing excellent complexity, delicacy and depth. $29

Hans Herzog Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 •••••

Prepare for something different: this thought-provoking wine is apricot-coloured, from lengthy skin contact with the juice, and was partly oak-aged. Perfumed and weighty (14% alc/vol), it is bone-dry, with powerful peach, strawberry and apricot flavours and loads of personality. Certified organic. $39

Mahi Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

This single-vineyard wine was hand-picked in the Awatere Valley and fermented to full dryness. Freshly scented, it is mouthfilling (13% alc/vol), with youthful, citrusy, spicy, slightly peachy and nutty flavours showing a touch of complexity and a crisp finish. $22

Main Divide North Canterbury Pinot Gris 2016 ••••½

From Pegasus Bay, this is a medium style, drinking well now. Bright yellow, with a slightly honeyed fragrance, it is weighty (13% alc/vol), with concentrated, well-ripened peach and apricot flavours, spicy, honeyed notes and a rich, slightly sweet, very harmonious finish. $21

Misha’s Vineyard Dress Circle Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017 ••••½

This attractive, youthful wine was estate-grown at Bendigo and part of the blend was fermented with indigenous yeasts in old French oak barrels. Made in an off-dry style, it is highly fragrant and weighty (13.5% alc/vol), with pure pear, lychee and stone-fruit flavours showing excellent freshness, delicacy and length. $28

Monowai Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2017 ••••

From a cool, elevated, inland site at Crownthorpe, this invitingly scented wine is drinking well. Medium-bodied (12% alc/vol), with vibrant, peachy, slightly spicy and honeyed flavours, a sliver of sweetness and impressive vigour, varietal character and depth, it offers fine value. $18

Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Bargain-priced, this is a full-bodied (13% alc/vol), fresh wine with pear, peach, lychee and spice flavours, showing good varietal character. An off-dry style, it is attractively scented with excellent delicacy and vibrancy. $18

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Pinot Gris 2017 ••••½

Grown and hand-picked at Bannockburn, in Central Otago, this freshly scented and mouthfilling wine (14% alc/vol) was made in a basically dry style. Vibrantly fruity, it has strong, pure pear and lychee flavours, a hint of spiciness and excellent delicacy, harmony and depth. $27

Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Single Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Gris 2017 •••••

Certified biodynamic, this very classy wine was hand-harvested at Bendigo. It is highly scented and mouthfilling (13.5% alc/vol), with beautifully vibrant, well-ripened pear, lychee and spice flavours showing excellent intensity, finely balanced acidity and a dry, lingering finish. It’s already delicious. $33

Rapaura Springs Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Offering very easy drinking, this freshly scented, exuberantly fruity wine is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with ripe, peachy flavours, a sliver of sweetness and gentle acidity. Enjoyable young. $19

Saddleback Central Otago Pinot Gris 2018 ••••½

Instantly appealing, this tank-fermented, lees-aged wine is intensely varietal, with mouthfilling body (13.5% alc/vol), vibrant, concentrated pear, peach and lychee flavours, fractional sweetness, finely balanced acidity and a floral bouquet. $24

Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

Priced sharply, this fragrant, finely balanced wine is already delicious, with mouthfilling body (13% alc/vol), pear, peach and spice flavours showing very good vigour, depth and harmony and a slightly sweet, crisp finish. $18

Summerhouse Marlborough Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

This good-value regional blend is freshly aromatic and full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol), with good intensity of vibrant, ripe pear, lychee and spice flavours and a dryish finish. $19

Terrace Edge Waipara Pinot Gris 2017 ••••½

Worth cellaring, this characterful wine was mostly fermented with indigenous yeasts in old oak barrels. Weighty (13.5% alc/vol) and fleshy, it has strong, ripe peach, pear and spice flavours, showing good complexity, a gentle splash of sweetness and a rich, smooth finish. $25

Thornbury Waipara Pinot Gris 2018 ••••

A rare example of a low-priced pinot gris with personality. This North Canterbury wine is full-bodied (13.5% alc/vol) and vibrantly fruity, with generous stone-fruit and pear flavours, gentle spicy notes, fresh acidity and an off-dry finish. Great value. $15

This article was first published in the October 13, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.