Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder, Ruländer)

A picture shows grapes of the grape variety Grauburgunder
© AWMB / Oberleitner

Origin: France, Burgundy. Grauburgunder (Pinot gris) was brought from Burgundy to Austria in the 13th or 14th century by Cistercian monks – which is why the variety once was referred to as the Grauer Mönch, or gray monk. The grape made its way to Germany from Burgundy or Champagne, and in 1711, it was found in a vineyard – which no longer exists - by businessman Johann Seger Ruland from Speyer.  From there, the variety was planted under the name of Ruländer.

Parentage: mutation of the Blauburgunder (Pinot noir) variety.

Vineyard area: 226 ha, 0.5 %. Mostly in northern Burgenland and the Steiermark. The vineyard area decreased by 24% between 1999 and 2009.

Important ampelographic features
Leaf: pentagonal, three to five lobes, slightly overlapping petiole
Grape cluster: small, densely compact berries; cylindrical; occasionally shouldered, with small round berries having greyish-red thin skins. Before the grapes ripen, it is difficult to differentiate the variety from Blauburgunder (Pinot noir) and Weißburgunder (Pinot blanc). Only the colour of the ripened grapes and the ripening time confirm the identity.

Ripening time: mid-early season

Significance, conditions: The variety reaches a high natural sugar content and is, therefore, well-suited for Spätlese and Auslese wine styles. The vines are demanding and prefer warm slope sites with deep nutrient-rich soil and good water retention.

Wine: Yields mild Qualitats- and Prädikat wines with fine, understated varietal aromas that last and last. When harvested very early, the wines become light and sparkling. As it is prone to Botrytis – which develops to noble rot when it appears later in the season – the Grauburgunder often shows a strong palate characterized by the Botrytis with a typical honey tone. Achieves high quality as an aged wine.