Two New Pinot Gris from Roche Wines – What’s the Difference?

I have two organically farmed Pinot Gris from Roche Wines, both coming from their Kozier Organic Vineyard located north of their winery on the Naramata Bench. Their 2018 Tradition Pinot Gris comes under cork with a heavier glass bottle, while their 2020 Texture Pinot Gris has a lighter bottle and is under screwcap. I spoke with Dylan Roche about the two wines and learned that while both wines come from the same vineyard, the grapes are from different blocks in the vineyard, with the Texture from a cooler east and south-facing area, while the Tradition is from a warmer, west-facing slope in the vineyard, plus the vinification process is different.  Also 2020, really was an odd year for weather.  It was quite cool in the Spring and early Summer.  The summer warmth did not begin till mid-July and then continued to the Fall, until the early snowfall in the Okanagan on October 23, 2020.  The contrast between these two wines is huge, in aromas, flavours, and acidity. Dylan let me know that when they did have tastings at the winery, they would like to pour both wines for their guests and talk about how different the two wines can be.  

The Kozier Organic Vineyard location, 4.1 km north of the winery.

My Wine Tasting Notes

Roche Wines Tradition Pinot Gris 2018 (BC $28.90)

420 cases produced.  The grapes were whole bunch pressed, then fermented in neutral French barrels, where it remained on its lees for one year with periodic batonnage. A Bronze medal at the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards.

Appearance: Medium-plus intensity lemon in colour.
Nose: A medium-plus intensity with primarily ripe pineapple and pears, along with some lemon, honey, and touches of peach and toast. With decanting the aroma intensity lessens and the main aromas are pear, bruised apple and a touch of toast.  Pineapple is reduced. Still nice.
Palate: This wine is dry, fuller-bodied with a thick and round mouthfeel to start that lightens up on the mid-palate. Smooth with an acidic edge. Pronounced flavours with roasted pineapples and pears, and lesser amounts of apricot, lemon, bruised apple, and a fino sherry tang. The wine has the same flavours after decanting, but you can also add a touch of butterscotch and oak.  The wine also feels a bit smoother.
Finish: A medium plus length finishing with roasted pineapple and pears and light pepperiness. You get ripe pears, bruised apples, lighter pepperiness and less pineapple with decanting.

A classy wine and a nice change from an oaked Chardonnay.  Decanting or not is OK, but you get stronger aromas and flavours without decanting.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Ripe pear and pineapple with touches of lemon, honey, peach, and toast upon opening.  Fuller bodied, round with a thicker mouthfeel upfront that lightens on the mid-palate.  Pears and pineapple flavours mainly, with some apricot and bruised apple.  Finishes with pears, pineapple, and light pepperiness.

Roche Wines Tradition Pinot Gris 2018 and Texture Pinot Gris 2020 with wines in glasses

Roche Wines Tradition Pinot Gris 2018 and Texture Pinot Gris 2020 with wines in glasses

Roche Wines Texture Pinot Gris 2020 (BC $21.90)

Whole bunch pressed, then fermented in stainless steel. 

Appearance: A medium pear skin plus lemon colour in the glass.
Nose: A pronounced youthful nose bursting with lemon, lime, gooseberries, green fruits, grapefruit pith, pine needles, and a touch of peach. Wow. After decanting the flavours stay the same, but are a touch lighter in intensity.  You can also add some crisp red apple aroma.
Palate: Dry with very high acidity, body and flavour intensity, and a thicker mouthfeel. Pronounced citrus, grapefruit pith and pine needle flavours on the palate. Bright fruits and an acidic prickle. Medium intensity pepperiness on the mid-palate. Overall with decanting, the acidity level, flavour intensity and body lighten up a tad, which I like. You now get some minerality coming through on the mid-palate.  There are less pine needles flavours, while citrus stays about the same.  A bit more restrained on the palate.
Finish: A medium plus length finishing with citrus, pine needles and medium pepperiness. A smoother finish with decanting, plus some gooseberry flavour at the very end.

Vibrant youth. I suggest giving this wine a short decant to tone down the acidity a bit. it also brings out the minerality in the wine.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars  Surprising aromas and flavours for a BC Pinot Gris.  Lemon, lime, grapefruit pith and pine needles on the nose and palate.  Pronounced acidity upon opening, but nicely tones down with a short decant, which also brings out this wine’s minerality.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

Roche Wines 2018 Pinot Gris ‘Tradition’ 

Available for purchase online at rterroir.ca, in-person at the winery, and at select private wine stores across the province.

Roche Wines 2020 Pinot Gris ‘Texture’ 

This wine newly released in April 2021 and is now available for purchase online at rterroir.ca, in-person at the winery, and at select private wine stores across the province.

Thank you to Roches Wines for providing me with these two wines to review.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.