Pinot gris is intriguing. It is a white grape that makes white wine, but the variety is a mutation of the black grape, pinot noir and when ripe on the vine, the grapes are a tawny brown colour. It is well travelled and has gained fame in Alsace, Germany and in Italy where it is known as pinot grigio. It dates back to medieval times. There is a record of the Emperor Charles IV taking pinot gris cuttings to Hungary in the 14th century.
Italian grigio is a very different style of wine to Alsatian gris. Some say that the Italian pinot grigio style evolved because the grape has low acidity and in the warmer climate the Italians picked the grapes earlier because they were wary of the escalating ph and the resulting wine losing its tang. The other theory is that Italians tend to prefer fairly neutral white wine and picked their grigio accordingly.
The 'gris' style is picked later, is more perfumed, textured and unctuous and suits the heavier food of Alsace and Germany. Both versions are viable - grigio is lighter, lither with more citrus flavours and a better white with Italian styled seafood, pinot gris on the other hand is more voluptuous with complex aromatics that hint at brown pear and salt spray and is delicious with pork.