Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are white wine grape related to of the Pinot Noir. When ripe, Pinot Blanc (Blanc means whiteshows a yellowish-green skin while Pinot Gris shows a grayish blue or brownish pink skin. While the skin colors are superficially the most striking difference in the grapes, there are others elements that are worth exlporing.
Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are thought to have originated in Burgundy, France. However, currently their home in France is in the Alsace region, where both grapes are used in the production of dry and sparkling wines.
Although the Alsace region may be the "home" of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris in France, both grapes have migrated to other areas of the world and have taken on other names as well. Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for Pinot Gris. Italian Pinot Grigio tends to be fuller bodied, more age worthy, and pricier, wile Pinot Gris is
know to be lighter and more easy-drinking. Pinot Blanc is also known as Pinot Bianco in Italy, and some say the Italian version of this grape shows higher acidity and more pear and citrus notes compared to it's French counterpart.
Around the World
Pinot Gris is naturally high in sugar and low in acidity. Thus, it’s suitable for cool-climate regions as otherwise, a warm-climate wine may lack acidity and structure. Widely produced in old-world regions like Alsace in France and Baden & Pfalz in Germany, new-world regions in the US and New Zealand have also earned a reputation for this varietal over the years.
On the other hand, Pinot Blanc as well is harvested in many European wine regions, particularly, Alsace of France, Alto Adige of Italy and parts of Austria & Germany.
Characteristics of both the wines may vary from place to place, owing to the difference in terroir. A Pinot Gris may reveal apples, pears, tropical fruit, stonefruit, sweet spices and even smoke or wet wool nuances. For a complex style, it’s allowed some time on lees or introduced with malolactic fermentation. Oak maturation is generally avoided, while on the contrary, a Pinot Blanc may undergo oak-aging depending on the winemaker’s choice.
Pinot Blanc is often considered similar to Chardonnay for the same reason. The result is generally a medium- to full-bodied drink with good acidity.
Pinot Blanc vs Pinot Gris—which one would you pick?