Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Rulander, Grauer Burgunder, the random off-spring of one of my favorite reds (Pinot Noir), is often considered a noble variety but given it’s bastard origins I am hard pressed to consider it noble in any respect. As the name Grauer Burgunder suggests it’s true home is Burgundy and while there are some remaining plantings the Burgundians have largely given up on their embarrassing love child. Pinot Gris is a mutation of Pinot Noir. One day several hundred years ago a Frenchman tending his newly planted vines cried “Sacrebleu!” As the Frenchman inspected his new Pinot Noir clones he realized that he had been duped and did not have Pinot Noir at all but rather some random bastard of a vine. He stormed back to the other Frenchman who had sold him the “fake” Pinot Noir and cut off his left leg; such was the custom of the time. But in fact it was not the now monopedal Frenchman that had duped him but Mother Nature herself!
|What a Bastard!|
Grape vines, the ones that are used to make wine at least, are propagated through cloning. Cloning is when a piece of vine, say Syrah, is cut off and put into the soil so that an identical vine, more Syrah, may then grow. This form of vine reproduction has been practiced for millennia. Were vines solely propagated through sexual reproduction we would have no way of bringing Syrah to Australia, or Sauvignon Blanc to New Zealand. When vines have sex the seed that is produced will have bits of each of its’ parents DNA so Australia might end up with Syrah Blanc, and New Zealand a Sauvignon Syrah. Cloning is a means to just straight up steal the DNA of a given vine, but biology is sloppy and sometimes messes up, such is the case with Pinot Gris. While Pinot Gris is genetically identical to Pinot Noir it is in fact visibly and tastily different.