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What our expert thought of Eden Road ‘The Long Road’ Pinot Gris

about this wine About this wine
Rosés are made like white wines, but from black grapes.  Since all of a grape’s colour is in the skin, you can even make white wine from black grapes if you separate the juice from the skins quickly enough.  Many champagnes are such blanc de noirs, made entirely from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  If you do want to make rosé then just a few hours of skin contact before fermentation is sufficient to turn the juice pink.
Making pink wine from white grapes is rather more difficult!  Unless you’re going to cheat by mixing in some black ones, the trick is to use a white variety that (whisper it) isn’t entirely white.  Pinot Gris, in fact.  The clue is in the name: Pinot Gris is a pale-skinned mutation of Pinot Noir that hasn’t quite lost all its colour… otherwise we'd call it Pinot Blanc.  Even so, its greyish-pink skins are so deficient in anthocyanins that a genuine rosé is really difficult to achieve: this is the first one I’ve ever seen.
I hear someone muttering at the back there: “hang on, didn’t I see an Italian rosé made from Pinot Grigio in the supermarket?”  Indeed you did and yes, Pinot Grigio is the same variety as Pinot Gris, but that wine was almost certainly made by the aforesaid cheat’s method – a splash of (usually) Merlot.  The exceptions are the rare ramato rosés from Friuli in northeast Italy, but they get their colour by fermenting the juice with the skins left in, just like a red.
This wine was not skin-fermented, so the cold maceration must have gone on way longer than the one night typical of rosés made from black grapes.  Grape skins contain aromatic compounds as well as coloured ones, so extended skin contact can enhance the wine’s nose.  However, they also contain tannins, which drinkers are not expecting to find in wines that aren’t red and are likely to find off-putting, especially in wine served cold.  It’s a delicate balancing act, and there are tricks the winemaker can play with temperature and sulphur dioxide to favour the extraction of one class of chemicals over another.
This wine comes from much-awarded boutique producer Eden Road, based in the Murrumbateman sub-region of the high-altitude Canberra District wine region.  The city of Canberra itself occupies its own statelet, the Australian Capital Territory, but the vineyards lie around 30 km to the north of it, across the state boundary into New South Wales.
This Pinot Gris comes from 19-year-old vines planted on ancient decomposed granite soils at an altitude of 630 metres.  Canberra District is a long way inland and relatively far north, so altitude is key to keeping temperatures down.  These vineyards are sufficiently cool for frost to be a hazard at flowering time, so they suit cool-climate varieties like Pinot Gris.
After all that skin contact, the juice was pressed from the skins and allowed to settle overnight before undergoing a low-temperature fermentation in stainless steel, to preserve those varietal aromas.  Following fermentation the wine was settled, cold-stabilized and then filtered directly to bottle.
the tastingThe Tasting
This is definitely a rosé, though not a particularly deep one.  It’s a lovely pale coral pink, with coppery glints.
There’s quite a pronounced nose of honeysuckle and wild strawberries, with asian pear and a spicy hint of ginger.  Despite those summery scents, it doesn’t smell at all sweet.
The crisp, fully dry palate is full-bodied for a rosé.  Unusual pomegranate and watermelon flavours are given a pithy edge by pear skin and orange peel, and the wine becomes increasingly textured and stony in the mouth.
That pithy, mineral character persists into the lingering finish, which starts off juicy and mouthwatering and grows dryer and more chalky, ending with a spicy warmth.
Not at all the fun and frivolous quaffing wine that its pretty pink colour would suggest, this unusual rosé is intense and serious, with big, pithy flavours and uncompromising dryness.  It’s a bit of a shock at first, but while many rosés are superficially charming but soon grow tiring to drink, this one keeps getting better with time in the glass – and with food.
I’m rather ashamed to admit that I normally drink rosé only in the summer.  This one will be an exception.  Instead of cracking it open to celebrate that the sun is shining (although that’s still a perfectly good reason), I'm going to be opening this year-round because it’s so delicious and because I won’t be able to think of a better wine to go with whatever we’re eating.

Tasting notes

clear pale coral pink

Intensity medium+

Aromas smells summery yet dry: floral (honeysuckle), red fruit (wild strawberry), orchard fruit (asian pear), spice (ginger)

Development youthful

Sweetness fully dry

Acidity medium(+?)

Body medium+ despite modest 12.7%

Intensity medium+

Flavours orchard fruit (pear), tropical fruit (pomegranate, watermelon), citrus (orange peel), increasingly mineral (stony, textured)

Length long-

Flavours as palate, starts juicy but increasingly chalky, slight bitterness, ends warm
Other notes
Unoaked, uncompromising, unusual. Very food-friendly.

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