Pinot Blanc.

Pinot BlancPinot Blanc

The Pinot family of grapes is large (Pinot Blanc a.k.a Clevner in Alsace, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris a.k.a Pinot Beurot, Pinot Noir) and most of its species tend to be unstable.

Many tend to mutate Pinot Noir being the most notable.

Pinot Blanc is a mutation of Pinot Noir, the fabled red grape of Burgundy (some call it the heartbreak grape) and was first observed in the 19th century. It resembles Chardonnay (Chardonnay was called Pinot Chardonnay for the longest time until it downed on ampelographers that it had nothing to do with the Pinot family), but produces a completely different style of wine. It is full bodied with a floral, and pungent bouquet. It can be slightly spicy on the palate, and when aged in oak may show some restraint and leanness which other grape varieties lack.

In Burgundy, its spiritual home, there is very little Pinot Blanc (mostly planted on flat vineyards east of the Route Nacional no.87) but hundreds of hectares thrive in Alsace where it is also called Clevner. Alsatian Pinot Blanc may lack the refinement of the Pinot Gris a.k.a Tokay d’Alsace (Pinot Grigio in Italy Grauburgunder in Germany) but can be excellent with local Alsatian specialties of plat de charcuterie, sausages, pizzas, pastas flavoured seafood and even with fried white fleshed fish. J. Hugel, in Riquewihr; L. Beyer, and Zind- Humbrecht, Schlumberger, A. Willm, Trimbach, Domaine Weinbach and Kreydenweiss  (all in Alsace) produce fine Pinot Blancs which can age for a year or two, but generally require little or no aging.

Pinot Blanc is produced in impressive quantities in eastern and central Europe, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and Romania.

In the New World, New York State, and Ontario there are some plantings. H. Konzelmann, Vineland Estates, and Pelee Island Winery in Ontario produce a very clean, appealing and robust Pinot Blanc well worth trying.

California wineries mistakenly labelled their Pinot Blanc as Melon de Bourgogne until the famous French ampelographer Pierre Galet discovered the mistake and alerted the officials of University of California at Davis. Many California wineries market Pinot Blanc; some more successful than others in their vinification techniques.

Chalone Vineyards, Biennacido Vineyard, Au Bon Climat, Steel Wines, Benziger Family Winery, R. Mondavi and Fetzer make fine Pinot Blanc wines.

In Orgeon Erath Vineyards, Bethel Heights, Amity Vineyards and Rexhill make lean and exquisite Pinot Blancs in good years.

In British Columbia, Okanagan wineries could produce excellent Pinot Blancs, but to date, only a few attempted and fewer still have been successful, with the notable exception of Mission Hill and red Rooster.

Pinot Blanc

could do very well in the Okanagan Valley on well-chosen sites. True Pinot Blanc is low in vigour and productivity yielding fine wine, but many growers opt for highly productive clones with predictably poor results.

Chardonnay’s unprecedented popularity all over the world undoubtedly suppresses demand for Pinot Blanc, but just as well. Those who appreciate it and those who try it will not only be pleasantly surprised, but most certainly will save a few dollars in the process.

Pinot Blanc

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