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The Pinot Blanc Grape


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About Pinot Blanc

(Synonyms: Auvernet Blanc, Beli Pinot, Burgunder Veisser, Burgunder Weisser, Chardonnet Pinot Blanc, Pinot Blanc Chardonnet, Clevner, Kläner, Fehér Burgundi, Pino Belîi, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Bijeli, Pinot Blanc Vrai, Pinot Branco, Rulandské Biele, Rulandské Bílé, Weissburgunder, Weisser Burgunder)

Background

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 bottling of Alsatian “Pinot Blanc” is a blend of 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 [archived page], “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.

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Some Descriptions of Pinot Blanc Wines

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Some Pinot Blancs to Try

(About this list.)

Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Blanc

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Blanc

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



St. Innocent “Freedom Hill Vineyard” Pinot Blanc

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Marc Kreydenweiss “Les Charmes” Kritt Pinot Blanc

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Wagner-Stempel “Siefersheimer” Weissburgunder Trocken

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Terlano-Kellerei “Vorberg” Pinot Bianco Riserva.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.