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The Pinot Blanc Grape

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About Pinot Blanc

(Synonyms: Beli Burgundac, Burgundac Bijeli, Fehér Burgundi, Klevner, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Bijeli, Rulandské Biele, Rulandské Bilé, Weissburgunder)


Pinot Blanc grapes Map showing the Alsace regiion of France

Pinot Blanc is a white-wine grape probably originating in Burgundy, as either a mutation of or a cross with Pinot Noir. Nowadays it is grown in many parts of the wine-making world, notably in the Alsace region of France, as well as Austria, Germany, Italy, and countries near those; the Pacific states of the U.S. also now grow some serious Pinot Blanc. Not a few critics feel that Austrian "Weissburgunder" may be the best expression of Pinot Blanc, though Oregon gets some votes, too.

The issue is complicated by the fact that in Alsace, the chief region for "Pinot Blanc", the term does not necessarily denote a monovarietal wine made from Pinot Blanc grapes; rather, the term there means any white wine made with what are collectively called "the Pinot varieties", a term including Pinot Blanc itself but also Auxerrois Blanc, Pinot Gris, and even Pinot Noir (vinified as a white). The commonest blend of Alsatian "Pinot Blanc" is Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, though true monovarietal Pinot Blanc bottlings can be found. (One source suggests that to identify true monovarietal Alsatian Pinot Blancs one should look for the name "Clevener", or "Klevener", on the bottle.)

The grape is probably best described as "serviceable" rather than outstanding, though in a few cases it can excel. To quote Jancis Robinson, "The main characteristic of wines made from Pinot Blanc (and Auxerrois) is a certain roundness of flavour, verging on apparent sweetness sometimes because the acidity is relatively low. They are gently rather than demandingly appealing, having even fewer distinguishing marks than Chardonnay, and generally rather less body. This means that yields have to be really quite low before a Pinot Blanc can stand up to barrel ageing. These are wines to be drunk young while such acidity as there is is most obvious." Wikipedia's article refers to Pinot Blancs as "full-bodied", and further states that "The most full-bodied 'Pinot blanc' wines from Alsace, with a spicy and smokey character and moderate acidity, are probably dominated by Auxerrois grapes."

Pinot Blanc is sometimes described as a poor man's Chardonnay, which may be unduly harsh, but which conveys something of the grape and its wines. Vineyard and vinification techniques can, however, make some real differences, and an Alsatian monovarietal Pinot Blanc and an Oregon bottling will probably not be that much alike.

Factoid: In the United States, grape vines long thought to be Pinot Blanc, and so marketed, turned out to be Melon de Bourgogne (the grape of French Muscadet wines), which is actually a better grape. Most or all have now been correctly identified and the wines appropriately labelled.

Some Descriptions of Pinot Blanc Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Bottles labeled Pinot Blanc offer fruity aromas, often of apple, citrus fruit, and floral characteristics. Bottles that are varietally pure, although more difficult to find, provide stronger floral characteristics, stone fruits and a headier minerality. Regardless of their exact composition, most wines under the label 'Pinot Blanc' are rather high in acidity and are vinified in tank, though more prestigious examples are fermented in large, 100% used oak barrels. Pinot blanc wines are usually made for immediate consumption and seldom meant for [cellaring]."

  • ""

  • Stacy Slinkard, about.com

    "Typically a medium-dry to dry white wine originally from the Alsace region of France (known as Pinot Blanc in France and Pinot Bianco in Italy). Generally oak is not used in the maturation process of Pinot Blanc. Pinot Blanc is a lighter flavored white wine with citrus, melon, pear, apricot and perhaps smokey or mineral undertones combined with characteristic high acidity."

  • Food & Wine

    "The French versions, from Alsace, are musky and creamy-textured; those from Italy have zippier acidity, with pear or even soft citrus flavors. American Pinot Blancs are usually made in the French style, as the name suggests."

  • Wune Searcher

    "Pinot Blanc is often regarded as Chardonnay’s understudy; like Chardonnay it produces a similar medium to full-bodied style of wine with good acidity, and responds well to oak maturation. In Alsace, still wines made from Pinot Blanc are typified by almond aromas, with a hint of spice. On the palate they show a range of apple flavors, usually at the floury and creamy end of the spectrum. They may display some light mineral characteristics, but these are generally muted by the oak treatment favoured in the region. . . In north-eastern Italy, Pinot Blanc is known as Pinot Bianco and produced as a crisp, dry wine that is much lighter in body than its French counterpart. The Italians rarely use oak in the production of the bulk of their Pinot Bianco, though some of the better producers use barrel maturation in their blended Pinot Bianco wines. Varietal Pinot Bianco wines are much less common in Italy than in other parts of the world. In Austria and Germany, Pinot Blanc is known as Weissburgunder. Weissburgunder arrived in Austria in the 19th Century where it is grown extensively in the northeast, where it appears more frequently in geographically labeled blends than as varietal wine. .  Pinot Blanc is now commercially produced in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Uruguay. Alcohol levels in these wines tend to be medium-high, with good acidity giving the wine a slightly sour, tart, edge."

  • Jancis Robinson

    "Today, Pinot Gris is more fashionable than Pinot Blanc almost everywhere, perhaps because it is more perfumed, fuller-bodied and distinctive. But for easy, good-value drinking in a style that is likely to offend no-one, I often find myself recommending a good quality Alsace Pinot Blanc . . . as a choice for a large party of drinkers without a particular interest in wine."

  • Michael Franz, Wine Review on Line

    "On the plus side, a good Pinot Blanc has a lot going for it. Light- to medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors that are subtle but satisfying, these wines are supremely versatile with food and unlikely to rub anyone the wrong way. Pinot Gris can be too rich and sweet for some tasters; Gewurztraminer too pungent, and Riesling too sharp and austere. But throw a really good Pinot Blanc into a circle of otherwise opinionated tasters and you'll find that everyone gets along with it. On the minus side, Pinot Blanc can't compete with the more complex character of Riesling, Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer, and in relative terms it can't sell for as high a price."

  • Paul Gregutt, Wine Enthusiast

    "Tasting several dozen [Oregon] Pinot Blancs from the 2011 and 2012 vintage, some general characteristics emerge. The best open with a whiff of honeysuckle, citrus—often grapefruit—and green apple, and have vivid acidity. There may be hints of white pepper or almond. Generally, they’re fermented entirely in stainless steel, and the alcohol levels range from 12–13%. Estate-grown and single-vineyard examples are often higher quality than those made from purchased grapes or blended versions. Drink these wines cool, but not so cold as to kill the aromatics or deaden the finish."

  • wineaccess

    "But at its best, with grapes from low-yielding vines, Pinot Blanc can produce exciting values: creamy, medium bodied wines, with honey-like aromas and flavors. . . the fact that we are most familiar with the grape as Pinot Blanc is a dead tip-off that the best examples of the grape come from France. In France, Pinot Blanc is most notably grown in Alsace, where it is either bottled on its own, used as a major component in the sparkling wine Cremant D'Alsace, or blended with other varieties in the region's traditional wine, Edelzwicker. We don't see much Edelzwicker, since the export market for this wine is virtually non-existent. But we're happy that we can get a decent amount of single-varietal Pinot Blanc from Alsace; the wine is made in some form by almost every Alsatian winery. These can be rich, sometimes tropical, smoky wines that are low in acidity. . . In the U.S., some California vintners are producing Pinot Blanc with the same techniques used to make expensive Chardonnay, including new oak and malolactic fermentation. We're not convinced that this is the best way to showcase the grape, and lean more towards the wines being made in Oregon. Here, vinification techniques more closely follow the model established in Alsace, with fermentation in stainless steel or older oak leading to wines that are rich and smoky."

  • Eric AsimovThe New York Times

    "I’m not claiming greatness or profundity for pinot blanc. I am saying that from the right place and in the right hands, pinot blanc can make distinctive, delicious wines that deliver much pleasure. I’ll always have a place for a wine like that, no matter how plain, mild-mannered or nondescript it may appear."

  • Professional Friends of Wine

    "All pinot blanc clones are characteristically high in acid and low in aromatic intensity, making it desirable as a sparkling wine component. The smell of pinot blanc, in fact, is very light indeed, non-distinct, and nearly neutral; this seems to increase the aroma influence of terroir and vinification. Pinot Blanc wines are balanced with high acid and can be full-bodied. Some California winemakers have fairly good results applying the same techniques to Pinot Blanc (if indeed this is the grape they are getting) that they might to Chardonnay: barrel fermentation, lees stirring, full malolactic, etc."

  • Forgotten Grapes

    "The thing is, when you boil down Pinot Blanc to its essence, it actually is a grape with an amazing amount of virtue.  .  The drier wines–produced in the typical Alsatian style with colder, slower fermentations in stainless steel tanks with little to no oak in the aging–often have a spiciness and smokiness to them along with a crisp, bright acidity that makes them perfect wines to pair with food. They are gorgeous and blonde and have quite a bit of depth to them, natural depth, not artificially created in barrels or with chemicals."

Some Pinot Blancs to Try

(About this list.)

We have tried, in the list below, to present a spectrum of the styles and regions of Pinot Blanc wines. It includes pairs from Alsace, Italy's Alto Adige, Oregon, and Austria (Austrian Weissburgunders tend to be distinctly more expensive on average, though the other regions also produce their share of dearly priced Pinot Blancs.) The Alsatian samples are both monovarietal.

Those interested in Alsatian "Pinot Blanc" blends would be well served by sampling any or all of Trimbach ($9 - $23), Schlumberger's "Les Princes Abbés" ($13 - $17), Hugel & Fils ($12 - $18), or Pierre Sparr's Reserve ($13 - $16).

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Léon Beyer Pinot Blanc, $10 - $19.
    (Alsace, monovarietal.)
         ($18.64 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Elegant with a hint of spice, well rounded yet delicate, combines freshness and softness, representing the happy medium in the range of Alsace wines. A well-balanced wine.

    Pinot Blanc Alsace, the Queen Mother would probably have loved something like this. It has a very citrus, floral flavour, with a hint of butter. It is medium bodied and is best served with any shellfish. I often recommend this with marinated salmon, maybe a shellfish starter or sometimes if someone doesn’t like sweet wine I would recommend this to go with foie gras.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (November/December 2008), 87 Points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 88 points.

    Scented and flavored with fresh apple, raw almond, and orange zest along with Chablis-like, chalk-suffused herb and meat stock, the Beyer 2009 Pinot Blanc displays admirable, surprising freshness and cut, not to mention sheer persistence for a wine of this vintage and genre. . . In fact, this is as distinctively delicious a Pinot Blanc from Beyer as I can recall. I have no experience with drinking older examples of their Pinot Blanc (all other varieties, yes), but suspect that this fine value will keep nicely for at least three years.

    Subtle, musky aromas of peach, apple and stone. The almost chardonnay-like stone fruit flavors are nicely framed by ripe acids. A very fresh, leaner version of pinot blanc with a clean finish. I'd wait a year on this one. Obviously from grapes picked early.

    Léon Beyer is an Alsace producer that is usually mentioned together with Hugel and Trimbach as the traditional trio of high-end néogciants/wine houses of Alsace that have some things in common: they stick to a completely dry and rather firm wine style (with the exception of late harvest wines that are supposed to be sweet) and they avoid vineyard names on the label, meaning that they don’t sell any wines classified as grand cru, although unsurprisingly the grapes for their best wines are sourced from grand cru vineyards. . . Nose with apple and some mineral. The palate is just about dry, with apple, fruity in style, with good concentration, some mineral, and good acidity. 85 points.

    Similar to [anotherAlsatian PB] in its peachy fruitiness, but slightly lower in acid, resulting in a wine better suited to sipping than pairing with food.

    Leon Beyer Pinot Blanc 2006 is pretty much the bread and butter wine of Alsace. Crisp, delicate and dry, this is one of the most versatile wines on the market today, and it will compliment virtually any drinking and slurping soiree.

    Soft and fragrant, this has flavors of green plum and peach that complement the acidity and the soft and creamy finish. 86 points.

    [Leon Beyer's] Pinot blanc de blanc is served as the house wine at the Ritz in Paris, which is probably a good recommendation for the house white at your house.

    Light lemony colour, pale, touch of floral touch to an uninspiring aroma. Nice balance. Lemony flavours. Jeanne picked up a little bottle age [2002 vintage drunk in 2006] that appeared more forceful with some time in the glass. Again not hugely impressed.

    Very pale in colour, with a surprisingly toasty nose. Grapefruit and citrus on the palate, with a dry finish, albeit a little short. Not bad for a basic wine, and I think it would be a great match for steamed or poached seafood.

  • Hugel "Cuvée Les Amours" Pinot Blanc, $12 - $18.
    (Alsace, monovarietal.)
         ($15.54 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    This Pinot Blanc pours a pale, golden straw color in the glass with delicate aromas cantaloupe, watermelon and pear. The palate offers bright flavors and crisp acidity. Honeysuckle, honeydew, citrus and watermelon are followed with toasted nuts and a dry finish. Definite enjoyment for your taste buds! B+

    [T]oday’s Drink of the Week—the Hugel et Fils “Cuvee Les Amours” Pinot Blanc 2008—hits all the right marks with the same year-round drinkability. The Hugel family has been crafting delicate, nuanced white wines in France’s Alsace region for nearly four centuries, and they continue that legacy with this rich Pinot Blanc. This is a great wine to put in the queue for the holidays. Its fruity olive oil aroma, citrus and stone flavors, and honey and dried apricot finish make it a perfect complement to mild cheeses or white fish, or enjoy it as an aperitif before a big meal.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (1 April 2010), 87 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (1 October 2009), 87 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (1 November 2008), 87 points.

    The Hugel 2007 Pinot Blanc Les Amours is scented by apple and orange blossoms, with their fruits following on a subtly creamy yet bright palate, cyanic and chalky inflections adding some counterpoint in the finish. This will be delicious at least through 2011.

    This is almost fleshy, which is unusual for a Pinot Blanc, with anise and smoke notes and hints of orange peel and lemon sorbet, all held in check by firm acidity. Drink now.

    Pure aromas of stone and citrus fruits and flowers. Then ripe and dense in the mouth, with very good lift to the apple and pear flavors. Strong, pure pinot blanc with a solid kernel of fruit nicely framed by lively acidity (half of the wine went through malolactic fermentation).

    Fresh orchard fruit aromas fill the nose of this 2008 Pinot Blanc. The palate shows off lots of apple. Golden delicious notes alternate with wisps of green apple. Vanilla and ginger provide subtle hints of spice. The wine is ultimately crisp and refreshing with firm acidity. It keeps you coming back to the glass for more. It works nicely in its own and will also pair with a host of lighter foods and dishes. This is a lovely light wine that works well as a welcome wine or as the first wine at the start of a meal. It’s crisp, mouth-watering and a nice way to get a party started.

    In a blind tasting with pricier Alsace whites, this blew me away. The creamy-mushroomy-stony layers, juicy apple-pear flavor and length were amazing. A great foil for fried foods, strong cheeses, briny shellfish.

    The other pinots (noir and gris/grigio) have gained enormous popularity, but pinot blanc is every bit as worthy. The 2012 Hugel Cuvee “Les Amours” Pinot Blanc is an exemplary introduction, with ripe melon flavors, minerally goodness (think slate) and ample body, but lightness at the long finish. Pork roast and most fowl dishes make swell accompaniments.

  • Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Alto Adige "Vignetti delle Dolomiti", $13 - $18.
    (Alto Adige, Italy; do not confuse this "Dolomiti" with their standard bottling or their "Haberle" bottling, though those are good, too.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Lageder is one of the leading advocates of biodynamic grape growing, striving for Demeter certification for all his vineyards in northern Italy. Most of the grapes for this juicy Pinot Bianco (a.k.a. Pinot Blanc) are from the Trentino area. Stainless steel fermented with a short period of maturation on the fine lees, the wine shows bright floral-citrus aromas and flavors, supported by brisk acidity. The nicely textured flavors feature citrus peel and green apples and the wine finishes, at a modest 12% alcohol, with bright fruit. This is a great wine for any occasion but especially for summer meals. 89 points.

    My nomination for most unfairly ignored varietal is pinot blanc, and few regions let it shine more than Alto Adige in the Italian Alps. Actually, a more specific name of the local mountain chain is on the label of the 2012 Alois Lageder Dolomiti Pinot Bianco. Glorious melon and citrus fruit play with a super-friendly give way to a super-friendly midpalate jolt of wet stone and a near-endless refreshing finish. Try it with shrimp on the barbie or with cocktail sauce or some baked ham with mac and cheese. And bring on a buttload more pinot blanc, and more grapes, period, that grow in the Dolomites.

    Fruit-forward with tart green apple and fragrant peach. Semi-dry mouthfeel makes for a brisk yet clean finish. Certainly a much drier Italian white than the Orvieto Classico I sampled a few nights ago and more akin to the white wines I am accustomed to. Paired well with the free cauliflower cheddar soup I also brought home from work. I’m pretty sure that’s the pairing the vintners had in mind when conceiving this wine. Bottom line: a pleasantly fruity yet clean semi-dry white in the $15/bottle range.

    Lageder also makes a less expensive 2007 Pinot Bianco from the larger Dolomiti appellation, which can include grapes from outside Alto Adige; the wine is bright and lively, with citrus, apple and a touch of almond paste.

    Fresh and clean, with precise flavors of pear and Honeycrisp apple; happy hints of lemon peel; enjoy as an aperitif or with smoked salmon.

    Nice palate weight — slightly creamy core supports crisp white peach and red apple fruit, with a crisp, moderate length finish.

    This Pinot Bianco is from South Tyrol's brilliant, almost 200-year-old wine estate Alois Lageder. With the fifth generation in charge now, Lageder produces a consistently excellent range of whites. The Pinot Bianco "Dolomiti," at less than $15, is always a great buy. The grapes are grown on cooler west-facing slopes and farmed bio-dynamically, giving a wine that is crisp and clean, with aromas of apples and delicate flowers.

    The wine had terrific aromas of salty, wet stone that practically screamed out for seafood. There were salty and yeasty flavors, that turned citrusy and a nicely bitter lemon pith note in the aftertaste. Excellent QPR, even if you don't find it on sale like I did.

    Quite interesting, complex wine with good balance — first tart, prickly fruit followed by mellow apples, then chalky notes and a finish of apple skins. Full without being heavy, this is my ‘Pick of the Litter.’

    A nose of white peach, yellow plum, and ripe apricot turn to a palate that’s bracingly brightened with acid, slate and mineral essences, as well as flashes of white peach and lemon. Linear and lovely, with hints of white flowers and spice, this is a food wine as well as a great warm-weather sipper.

    2012 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Dolomiti IGT gives a little more depth to this sometimes subdued variety. Filled with stone and tree fruit notes (white peach, golden apple, ripe pear) with a light body and approachable style.

  • Hannes Sabathi Weissburgunder Klassik, $14 - $21.
    (Steirmark, Austria)

    Some quotations and facts:

    There is very little review information about this wine, though there is much in German about the winemaker and the winery, plus an awful lot of European restaurant menus carrying it. This is what we found, but we did not inspect all the non-English web pages.

    More time on lees, and some time in big old casks. "I hate residual sugar and carbon dioxide in this style." Certainly has more leesy, yeasty character, a little bready note to the nutty apple fruit. Very clean very citrusy on the palate. The ripe clean apple and melon comes through, more substantial fruit and persistence in the finish, lovely acidity and bone dry. 86-87 points.

    [Google-translated from German:] Ripe apples and pears dominate the cool mineral fragrance. On the palate juicy apples, fresh and fruity, medium dry spicy, tight mineral structure, delicately nutty, crisp acidity and good length. Fine universal food companion.

  • Bethel Heights Estate "Eola-Amity Hills" Pinot Blanc, $17 - $19.
         ($17.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    This estate-grown offering was a standout among several dozen tasted for a feature story. It’s loaded with bright fruit flavors of grapefruit and pear, and even in the warm 2012 vintage, it maintains the grape’s signature minerality, while moving gracefully into a detailed, focused finish. 92 points.

    I love Pinot Blanc (especially from Alsace, Friuli in Italy, and from South Styria in Austria) and this is quite possibly the best one I’ve ever tasted from the United States. Whereas this variety is routinely oaked into a indistinct Chardonnay look-alike in California, Bethel Heights has treated it respectfully and been rewarded handsomely. Medium-bodied with gorgeous fruit recalling pears and baked apples, with excellent balancing acidity and a finish that just won’t quit. I don’t know whether the hand-off approach and the absence of wood is the more salient factor in this wine’s excellence or the hand-on approach made possible by ultra-small production, but the resulting wine is utterly convincing and complete.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 88 Points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 90 Points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (July/August 2012), 89 Points.

    Although sourced entirely from their immediate Eola-Amity Hills neighborhood, Bethel Height’s basic 2010 Pinot Noir is solely appellated “Willamette Valley.” As it’s designed from the beginning to be fruit-forward and refreshing, this gets 5-6 days of cold soak (whereas the typical Bethel Heights Pinot gets 3-4) and is yeasted specifically for low-temperature fermentation. Bright, sappy, fresh red berries are tinged with tamarind, clove, and vanilla on a vivacious palate, leading to a sustained and, as intended, refreshing finish.

    Bright red. Lively red berries and cherry on the nose, with notes of fresh flowers and cola adding complexity. Bright, racy strawberry and raspberry flavors give way to a deeper bitter cherry quality in the mid-palate, with tangy orange zest adding cut. Finishes floral and piquant, leaving a hint of white pepper behind.

    Apple, sweet corn and fresh lime inform a cepage-typical performance from Bethel Heights' 2012 Pinot Blanc, which reveals faint smokiness and underlying stoniness on a palate at once subtly creamy and both brightly refreshing and invigorating, if not notably persistent. I suspect that this will be best enjoyed by 2015 but as I often have occasion to emphasize, this grape is capable of considerable longevity even in relatively simple incarnations.

    From 4 acres of vines. Really nicely textured with a slightly creamy, fresh, fruity character. Lovely stuff, with a bit of honeyed sweetness. Stylish. 90/100

    He said: Served chilled. Clear, light straw with just a hint of green color. Light citrus and apple aromas. Very smooth ripe apple and pear taste with hints of tartness that goes into a long refreshing crisp, finish with great minerality. There is tasty flavor, good acidity and a wonderful finish. As it warmed up the finish really came alive. A delicious easy drinking wine with lots of flavor and complexity.
    She said: Although the soup was complimented by the refreshing taste of the wine, the wine came into its own after dinner as we sipped it. The cumin and lemon in the soup dominated and covered the subtle flavors of the wine. Too bad because the wine has a delicious crisp green apple flavor, light body and long tasty finish. I would pair it with a different dinner to bring out its unique and delicious flavors.

    A rich, deep fruit nose of peach, apricot and apple also show on the palate, which is highlighted by oak and palate-cleansing acidity on the lingering finish.

    The Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc starts the show with some of the most assertive spiciness of the group: a flood of cured lemon, bergamot and orange peel. It is very focused on the palate with a lightness . . . The tangy core has a wound-up feel to it and after ten minutes in the glass, a whole new wine emerges, with the ripe pear and apple fruit finally in place. The dominant citrus theme reappears at the finish, leaving a very refreshing and energetic impression.

  • Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Blanc, Dundee Hills, $17 - $21.
         ($18.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Distinctive aromas of beeswax and bee pollen continue with similar flavors, wrapped around tart yellow apple fruit. It’s lovely, fragrant and ageworthy, in a high-acid European mold, but give it plenty of time to breathe. Decanting is a good idea. 90 points, Editors’ Choice.

    Lovely depth on the nose: herby and fresh with canteloup melon fruit and creamy, spicy notes. The palate has depth, freshness and balance with a lovely creamy texture, some smokiness and a bit of spice. Finishes quite dry and savoury. 94/100

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (July 2009), 88 Points.

    Light yellow-gold. Subtly perfumed bouquet of fresh pear, white peach, floral honey and minerals. A juicy, focused midweight, offering spicy orchard and pit fruit flavors and good tangy minerality. Finishes dry and stony, with good persistence and an echo of zesty spices.

    Jason Lett, the president and wine maker of the label chooses to rest the juice on lees, adding body to the wine, and to allow malolactic fermentation as well, bringing a buttery smoothness to the final drink. The Eyrie clones originate from the Alsace region, and this wine is produced as a limited bottling, adding to the treasure of tasting it. It is also readily considered unusual when compared to its Willamette counterparts in that the Eyrie presents with richer, creamier texture. The grapes offer a rich, savory, dried herbal quality to complement the melon and citrus notes. The acidity is lower, but the alcohol higher compared to [other Oregon] offerings, as a result the Eyrie leaves more of a sense of heat in the mouth. . . This wine is so much Oregon sea coast and forest to me. It tastes like fog, with fresh sea air, the forest surrounding you, and your best friend there on a picnic.

    A delicate wine with subtle aromas and flavors of apple, herbs, and nuts, soft and slightly creamy on the palate, finishing fresh and lively with a slight spritz. Good.

    A pale, watery, lemon-colored wine with youthful aromas of apple, melon, peach and minerals with hints of vanilla and bread. The palate was medium-bodied with supple, but well-balanced acidity and flavors that mirrored the nose with a long lemon-zest, peachy finish. A bright and refreshing wine that's got more going on than the aromas intially suggested and one that delivers for the money.

    Steel aging always keeps the fresh fruit flavors intact and this one, with the crisp pear and apple character, stony minerality and food ready acidity was mouthwatering.

    Our pre-release sample showed a ripe nose of grapefruit, floral perfume and dusty mineral, and flavors of melon, citrus, baking spice and earthy mineral. A very nice complement to both oysters and mussels.

  • Heidi Schröck Weissburgunder Neusiedlersee-Hugelland, $19 - $27.
         ($19.54 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    A warm, soft, very ripe wine, bringing pear and apple flavors into a mélange of caramel and vanilla. The wine has concentration along with spice, and a rich texture. It would benefit from a few years’ aging. 90 points.

    Fresh white corn, oyster shells, lime peel, lilac, more of that chayote (it’s kind of like a cross between a radish and squash), loess, white spices and dried ginger. Something not to be missed.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (28 February 2009), 91 points.

    Floral perfume and sweet citrus oil rise seductively from a glass of Schrock's 2007 Weissburgunder. With the combination of lush creaminess and elegance and vivacity that only this grape variety (in the right hands) can exhibit, and with a mingling of savory, saline, scallop-like, chalky minerality and nut oils, fresh apple, and citrus cream, this finishes with striking length and mineral complexity. There is a hint of brown spice, peony, and rose petal hovering about this as though a dollop of Gewurztraminer had been added. This will prove terrifically versatile and alluring for at least 5-7 years, I predict. As always, this wine was vinified entirely in tank, with long lees contact.

    Gentle, pear and stones. Finely cut lines, structured and refined. Some green apple on the finish. Long and sophisticated. Really crisp. 17/20.

    The screwcapped 2007 [drunk in 2013] is light yellow-gold in color, with a lightness and vibrancy on the nose that lifts the white fruit cocktail out of the glass. Quite dry and focused on the palate, with nice acidity and minerality. The 2004 (sealed with cork, so presumably they changed over to screwcap at some point in the interim) is slightly darker gold in color, with a riper, fuller nose - the additional bottle age has given this wine a gravitas that the 2007 doesn't possess. I get some peach essence here, cloaked in minerals - very nice. Not as dry or linear on the palate as the first wine; I had this last night with grilled sockeye salmon and it was a nice match, but even now by itself, this has a lot going on. This strikes me as mature, and this is one of my last bottles, but it also doesn't seem like it's ready to give up the ghost, so who's to say how much longer it might last and whether or not it would develop further nuance/complexity.

    Schrock’s 2004 Weissburgunder achieved a startlingly high 14.5% alcohol (even after leaving behind a little residual sugar), but doesn’t betray it. Hazelnut, fresh apple, lemon zest, sea salt and chalk dust aromas lead to rich, nutty, fresh, juicy and crisp apple notes. Actually, the apple fruit is layered, with baked, dried and fresh stages of flavor. The pungent notes of tangerine and lemon rind as well as subtle sweet green herbs add considerable complexity, in fact, the finish here is simply sensational in its combination of sensually satisfying and thought-provoking complexity. This Pinot Blanc is a sensational value and a wine not to be missed.

    'Weissburgunder' is Pinot Blanc- which is like the sexier cousin of Pinot Grigio: more voluptuous and alluring. The texture was so smooth and almost creamy, the flavors were way luscious: baked apples, sweet almond, toasty hazlenuts and even a little smokiness! The fact that it's from a female winemaker is very cool as well.

For a Splurge

A Pinot blanc that seems widely admired is the Rudi Pichler Weissburgunder Smaragd Kollmütz (Wachau, Austria), retailing circa $36 to $55.

     ($44.74 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

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