Marasby, a platform for high quality English and Welsh wine, held a tasting in London to explore the question. In one of the most extensive tastings of its kind, 15 wines from pioneering UK producers were tasted by a panel of 10 professional buyers and industry experts.
On Marasby’s visits to UK producers making a wide range of still wines, they’re often told that Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc have become the fastest-selling wines. Some have speculated that, unlike Bacchus, which can have a divisive flavour profile, or Chardonnay, which can come with heavy expectations, the typical consumer comes to wines made from the white Pinots with a comparatively open mind. As a result, some suggest the white Pinots might have a future as signature grapes for the UK wine industry.
To understand the potential of the white Pinots, Marasby gathered what they understand to be the most extensive selection of English Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc ever assembled at one tasting. The 15 wines included examples from Hampshire, West & East Sussex, Kent, Essex and Oxfordshire, vintages from 2016 – 2022, and the latest award-winners such as Oastbrook’s IEWA Gold 2022 Pinot Blanc.
The tasting panel of 10 represented a wide cross-section of industry expertise, from sommeliers at leading London restaurants, to wine trade leaders, UK wine influencers, and published UK food and wine authors.
With this level of diversity, the panel had many different opinions on the wines – yet all were excited by their overall quality. As Davide Renna of Hide Bar & Restaurant put it, “it is clear they have great potential.”
Where the panel was more divided was in comparing the flights of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Matt Tipping of Jeroboams was typical of those who preferred the consistency and commercial accessibility of the Pinot Gris. Here were many wines that any drinker “could order in a restaurant, enjoy, and think that it is a good bottle of dry white wine that compares favourably to other crisp, dry whites from around the world.”
Other panel members preferred the diversity of styles and flavours that could be found in the flight of Pinot Blanc. Natural wine champion Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene “looks for terroir,” and found this “particularly in the Pinot Blanc.” English winemaker Chris Wilson of Gutter & Stars said, “it is nice to see so much experimentation.”
The Marasby verdict was that there are now reliably delicious, complex, and well-priced UK white wines made both from Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapes. Based on the wines tasted by the panel, Pinot Gris currently appears to offer more consistency from a commercial viewpoint, while Pinot Blanc offers more opportunity for winemakers to experiment and stamp their own signature on the wines.
Either way, it is clear that the white Pinots have great potential to be quality-leading grapes for the UK still wine industry and should be given serious consideration in plans for future plantings.
PINOT GRIS: Artelium Pinot Gris 2021, Freedom of the Press Pinot Gris 2021, Heppington Pinot Gris 2021, Martins Lane Vineyard Pinot Grigio 2018, Martins Lane Vineyard Pinot Gris 2016, Oastbrook Pinot Gris 2022, Stopham Pinot Gris 2022, Yotes Court Pinot Gris 2021
PINOT BLANC: BSixTwelve Pinot Blanc 2020, BSixTwelve Orange Pinot Blanc 2020, Missing Gate Pinot Blanc 2020, Oastbrook Pinot Blanc 2022, Stopham Pinot Blanc 2022, Tillingham Pinot Blanc NV (2020/21), Yotes Court Pinot Blanc 2021
For individual tasting notes on each of the wines, visit www.marasby.com/wt/white-pinot-pioneers-tasting-notes
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