6 local Pinot Gris face a side-by-side taste test


By Brandon Little

Battle Of The Okanagan: Pinot Gris

Photography: Jeremy Spruston

Venue: Pane Vino Pizzeria

Ah, Pinot Gris, the Burger of wine. Dependable, delicious, and you can never go wrong with one. Who doesn't like a burger? Well, maybe vegans or vegetarians, but I can’t think of a friend or family member who doesn’t like Pinot Gris. It’s the opening comedian that warms up the crowd. It’s the dependable girlfriend or boyfriend. BUT, here’s the thing. When done well, a Pinot Gris can be exceptional! We did some serious brainstorming and think we’ve selected the six best examples of Pinot Gris in the valley and each one different from the next.


We tasted, rated and scored each of these Pinot Gris blind. This post will provide you with a description of each bottle, who won and what the winners’ score was, however it won’t tell you the scores for the other five, you’ll need to visit our Instagram page to see the results.


#1 Sandhill

Vintage: 2017

Region: Kelowna (sourcing their grapes from six different vineyards within BC)

Why was it selected? We’ve heard good things about their Pinot Gris and have always wanted to try it.

Price: $19.00

Our Notes:

I’m not sure if it was because it was the first PG of the day, but it seemed like the aromatics were difficult to find. You had to dig real deep. When you did find them, they were melon, lemon zest, white pepper and very, very subtle. The wine had high acid, ripe citrus, kind of boozy, and a bit watery, so in a sense, the flavours were a bit hard to find, just like the aromatics. The finish was short and simple and that makes it a perfect example of an entry level Pinot Gris.


#2 Poplar Grove

Vintage: 2018

Region: Naramata Bench

Why was it selected? The is the first Pinot Gris that made me REALLY like Pinot Gris.

Price $19.04

Our Notes:

This wine was crazy!! We could smell the wine coming off the glass right from the table. We didn’t even need to stick our nose inside the glass...but of course we did anyway. Extremely pronounced aromatics of ripe fruits, cantaloupe, honeydew, nectarines, and peaches. You know that smell in your house after you buy peaches during peach season and they all ripen at the same time. That’s exactly what this wine was like. We all thought, wow, it’s so sweet on the nose, the taste must be the same, but we were wrong… it was quite the opposite. It was dry, but on the verge of off-dry. Medium + acidity, with pear, honey, lime, and extremely well balanced. A creamy-long finish that was left lingering. Did I mention a long finish?? This is a white, with all its characteristics, could age nicely if you stuck it in a dark cool place for a few years. I think I may try and see what happens.


#3 Nichol Vineyard

Vintage: 2018

Region: Naramata Bench

Why was it selected? This wine was debatable and almost didn’t make the list. It’s the only Pinot Gris that had skin contact (36 hours' worth to be exact) but because the wine is called a Pinot Gris and not Rose, we figured, what the heck. Will that give it an advantage? We will see.

Price: $23

Our Notes:

Light salmon in colour. Shy aromatics, of guava, vanilla, coconut husk, smoke, and rhubarb. The wine was dry, but fruity -candied fruit, cranberries, light tannins, crisp, a touch of grapefruit, with a medium tart-like finish. There was also a hint of smoke, from either the barrels or maybe smoke taint (2018 was the worst fire season we’ve had on record) and that’s not a bad thing, because it added some complexity to the wine. Our guest judge (Saffron) picked up on it too and used the term “campfire”. This will be a great summer food wine.


#4 O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars

Vintage: 2017

Region: Lake Country

Why was it selected? A neighbor of Intrigue and the newest winery of the six and I’ve had their PG, it’s pretty gosh-darn-good!

Price $18.00

Our Notes:

We all liked this one. It had a little bit of everything which made it very interesting to evaluate. Lots of citrus, melon, orchard fruit (apples, apricot, white peach) all blended into one. Off-Dry, medium + acid, apricot, peach, medium body (voluptuous), strong, creamy, and very well balanced. The finish was long, green, with brown sugar, extremely pleasing and complex. It was almost difficult to describe due to all the different aromatics and flavours and trust me, that’s a good thing. It kept us guessing and constantly changed as we drank it.


#5 Intrigue

Vintage: 2018

Region: Lake Country

Why was it selected? Best QPR (Quality-Price-Ratio) of the bunch and I’m not sure you can find a better deal in the valley.

Price is $16.90

Our Notes:

The visual was interesting, pale lemon with a minor salmon hue, not to the extent of a rose, but when we looked at it at just the right light, we could see something out of the ordinary. Very aromatic and the first wine with floral aromas, along with peaches and cream and apricot. On the verge of off-dry to sweet, medium body, medium acid, flaovurs of lemon, lime, and peach. Between a short and medium finish that’s very well balanced. Another gateway Pinot Gris and with its low price I’d have to say a must buy and it certainly held It's own against the rest.


#6 Gray Monk

Vintage: 2017

Region: Lake Country

Why was it selected? The name Gray Monk was taken from the first grapes they planted – Pinot Gris. A pretty bold move, so it’s has to be good right?

Price $16.99

Our Noties:

Medium lemon in colour. The nose had melon, pomelo, not overly intense and a bit nutty. Off-dry, medium + acid, medium body, candied fruit, red apple, dried fruits, and a tad toasty. Long finish that’s kind of burnt and boozy (not in a bad way). “Easy drinking without thinking” as one of our judges put it. This is another great example of a gateway gris. Very enjoyable to drink and one of those wines you can picture yourself on a patio with in the middle of our Okanagan Summer.



All of the wines we tasted today were amazing and you won’t go wrong with purchasing any of them. If you’re at one of the wineries, make sure you taste their Pinot Gris! It’s always hard picking from a tasting list and hopefully these reviews will help make it easier.

Now to the winner and unlike the bubbles round this one wine definitely stood out form the rest.


Winner is wine #2 !!!

2018 Poplar Grove – Pinot Gris

with an average score of 12.6/15

What put this over the top was the aromatics and how intense they were. We could’ve sat there for hours just smelling the wine, but we couldn’t, we had a job to do. The contradiction from the extremely fruity aromas to a dry tasting wine with high acidity was also a huge plus. Wines are all about the experience, and the more complicated they are, the more fun they are to drink.

Poplar Grove is a family run business in Naramata with a beautiful tasting room and an amazing view overlooking Okanagan Lake. Their Pinot Gris just happens to be my favourite, but I haven’t had it in quite a while. Also, it stood the blind test for this competition! Vintage to vintage can be different, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and I certainly wasn’t disappointed or surprised.


Congrats Poplar Grove!

For more info on the bottles, check out our Instagram page, I’ll be posting the rest of the scores on the other bottles within the week.

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