Pinot Gris is one of the new kids on the New Zealand wine block, making its first appearance just 30 years ago in 1990. Though it’s only responsible for 6% of the country’s total wine production, it is the third most popular white varietal. In the southern region, the Pinot Gris grapes  are higher in acid, resulting in crisper wines. But winemaker Sam Weaver of Mt. Beautiful has a few interesting techniques that give this stereotypically lean white wine a bit of depth and multiple levels of flavor…

About the Wine: The Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris is made from 100% Pinot Gris harvested from the Mt. Beautiful estate vineyards located in New Zealand’s North Canterbury region. According to the winemaker, the grapes were picked in two batches — an earlier batch showcasing more acidity and a later batch showcasing more concentration in flavor and texture. The grapes were then whole cluster pressed and fermented in a combination of old oak and stainless steel and aged on the lees.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris and find fun aromas of lemon, apricot, and nectarine. This Pinot Gris is slightly Champagne-hued on the pour, but presents a solid straw-yellow in the glass — a light, bright, glimmering straw-yellow.

Initial aromas are “wow” with a round, creamy, caramel-like scent and a deep, rich floral bouquet complete with pollen. Swirl and find a dose of acidity that adds a bit of lemongrass, ginger, and apple to the nose. The palate of this Pinot Gris is smooth and, again, round, but there’s a solid acidic line that cuts right through the center keeping the tongue at attention and all flavors fully alive. Those flavors include honey, nutmeg, apple, and cashews. The finish includes a ginger-like heat, though the actual flavor is more reminiscent of a burnt brown-butter cookie.

Food Pairing: I enjoyed this bottle of the course of several nights. The first night I paired the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris with a baked salmon (seasoned with butter, rosemary, and thyme) on top of roasted vegetables (butternut squash, broccoli, and red peppers). The second night I enjoyed this Pinot Gris with a parmesan crusted chicken on top of a strawberry salad. And the very last night I enjoyed this wine all on its own.

Fish, chicken, veggies, or a la carte — this wine was amazingly satisfying.

More Info: I received the Mt. Beautiful 2015 Pinot Gris as a sample for review. (Cheers Suzanna!) Retail: $18.99. For more information about Mt. Beautiful, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Mt. Beautiful website.

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