De Grendel puts Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir on the winning map

Wednesday, 1 May, 2013
De Grendel
To achieve success with Pinot Gris just doesn’t come easy. This makes the award-winning performance of De Grendel at the 2013 Pinot Gris Du Monde, an international competition held in Strasbourg, that much sweeter.
De Grendel’s win at Pinot Gris De Monde 2013 makes it the only wine producer from the Southern Hemisphere to win this coveted award, which forms part of Les Grands Concours du monde.

The cellar also tasted success with Pinot Noir, another medal-shy varietal in South African wine awards, with the inclusion of De Grendel Pinot Noir 2010 in the Top 100 SA Wines 2013, a prestigious local competition.

Pinot Gris Du Monde - De Grendel Pinot Gris 2012:

“Winning this highly prestigious international award holds special significance for us,” says De Villiers Graaff, director: De Grendel. “The status of this wine competition is soaring due to the credibility of its tasters from all over the world, including oenologists, wine growers, sommeliers, cellar directors and specialised journalists.”  

Knowing that these international judges rated De Grendel Pinot Gris 2012 as world class means we can compete internationally on quality with great confidence,” says Graaff. 

“This prestigious win comes at the right time for us,” he adds. “Pinot Gris is the big talking point in international wine circles, especially Europe, the USA and New Zealand, drawing consumer interest away from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Our own cellar door experience confirms this international trend. The 94 cases from our first vintage were upped to 1 000 cases in 2012 to meet demand.”

“Adding to the status of our win is that Pinot Gris is such a popular wine in France, while locally De Grendel is one of only a handful producers,” says Charles Hopkins, cellar master. “Our decision to go for the Alsace style paid off, resulting in a riper, more full-bodied wine rather than the lighter, more acidic Italian Pinot Grigio style.”

While the tightly packed bunches of blue gray Pinot Gris grapes may look unremarkable at first glance, the De Grendel cellar transforms it into gentle lime green tinged wine with a bright fruit palate, aromas of fresh apple, ripe pear, poached quince and a beguiling buttery richness: the makings of an international winner.

The Pinot Gris vineyards grow on slopes 200 meters above sea level in Deep Hutton soil. “We field-grafted a portion of our Cabernet Sauvignon plantings to Pinot Gris, which we believe performs very well under our cool conditions. We also pluck the leaves at strategic times for higher sugar levels – another factor contributing to the bigger structure of our Pinot Gris. Blending in 20% barrel-fermented Pinot Gris further add complexity to the wine.”

Named for its ‘pinecone grey’ colour, Pinot Gris is quite the food lover. Known to work well with robustly flavoured pork and chicken dishes, it has lead to inventive food and wine partnerships. Says Jonathan Davies of De Grendel Restaurant: “It works particularly well with a dish of pork, scallop and black pudding, with Pernod, sweet potato, orange and cabbage adding further layers of interest. The wine also goes splendidly with prawn and ricotta ravioli, which we finish with Pinot Gris butter to echo the buttery richness of the recent vintage. The fresh apple and pear flavours also inspired an apple crème brûlée, proving the wine can hold its own through all courses of a wintery meal.”

Top 100 SA Wines: De Grendel Pinot Noir 2010


“The Top 100 performance is also significant as awards for local Pinot Noirs are few and far between. It takes a long time to establish an award-winning pedigree for Pinot Noir under any brand, making the Top 100 award a big step towards our goal to be a reckoned producer of this varietal,” says Graaff.

Quite a feat, taking into account that in 2011, the launch year of the awards system, not a single Pinot Noir was included in the Top 100. Only one made it in 2012, while this year six Pinot Noirs are included against stiff competition from other top South African reds. 

Hopkins explains that De Grendel’s Pinot Noir vineyards, reaching up to 350 m above sea level, benefit from the cooling Atlantic Ocean a mere 7 kilometers away. “The deep, well drained shale and slow ripening of the fruit all work together to produce Pinot Noir with distinct character: the international judges picked up on the red cherries, blackberries and roasted nuts; and velvet finish on the palate.”
 
The winter fare ahead is sure to deliver on the food-pairing promises of this remarkable wine. Says Chef Ian Bergh: “This winter we will be toasting the Top 100 success of De Grendel Pinot Noir with wild mushroom, venison dishes, slow-cooked lamb and braised beef.”

For more information visit www.degrendel.co.za

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