#newwinethisweek Week 44 – Pinot Blanc, Alsace

Pinot Blanc

This week’s #newwinethisweek, Pinot Blanc, has a bit of an image problem. It covers over 20% of the vineyard area in Alsace but is considered a “workhorse” grape, far less revered than its regional counterparts, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. Jancis Robison even describes it as “useful rather than exciting”; I think this is unfair and this week hopefully you’ll find out why.

Alsace

Centuries ago Pinot Blanc was a revered grape in Burgundy; a few of the wine makers I met over there say there is still a decent proportion of Pinot Blanc still hiding amongst the world famous Chardonnay vines. It is also often found in Italy under the pseudonym Pinot Bianco, and can be used in the production of sweet Vin Santo, and England are having a good go at it too!

Pinot Blanc is the un-credited star of Cremant d’Alsace, but by itself it can produce clean, fresh and aromatic still wines. In fact, if it says Pinot Blanc on the label of an Alsace wine, you are probably drinking a blend of Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (vinified without skin contact). But however it’s made and whatever is in it, I think it makes a brilliant afternoon slurper or a great aperitif; I’m a big fan and I’m hoping you will be too by the time the week is over.

Un fortunately there isn’t much of it available on the high street, but I urge you to head to your nearest wine merchant and get on the Pinot Blanc bandwagon:

Calvet Alsace Pinot Blanc 2013 (Asda £9.00)

Cave de Hunawihr Kuhlmann-Platz Pinot Blanc 2013 (Majestic £8.99)

Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2012 (The Wine Society £9.50)

Hunawihr Pinot Blanc 2013 (Oddbins £10.50)

Dopff Pinot Blanc 2013 (Wine and the Vine £11.99)

 

Or check out this fab English number:

Chapel Down Pinot Blanc 2011 (The Wine Society £12.50)

 

Once you’ve had a slurp, please come back and let us now what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on November 3, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I had no decision to make after selecting Pinot Blanc as the wine for #NWTW44 as the Dopff au Moulin is one of my go-to whites. Dopff is a big volume producer in Alsace but is still family owned; sometimes we are quick to put down big volume operations but the output of this domain is wonderfully consistent across the range.

    The Dopff au Moulin Pinot Blanc 2013 (Wine & the Vine £10.99) is a crisp white wine but with more body that you may expect from Pinot Blanc. The wine fills the nose and the mouth with lots of apple and pear fruits but also just a delicate touch of blossom. The flavour is fairly intense and very enjoyable; its bright and crisp but with good length and nice balanced acidity. Whenever we open a bottle of this, we invariably get to the bottom of it quickly; it may not be the most complex wine I’ve ever had but it is a delicious aperitif and a great start to any occasion. 8/10

  2. I’ve struggled to post a review over the past few weeks with all the goings on for the imminent move to the US, but things are quieter this weekend so here we go. My first priority when we move in December is to find a decent wine merchant that runs a good European line so I can carry on joining in with #newwinethisweek.

    So, Pinot Blanc proved to be a difficult find this week. I’ve been relying on the supermarket choices a bit too much recently so thought I’d try the independents. Lea & Sandeman’s didn’t stock one but I had more luck in The Good Wine Shop, Chiswick. I bought their only version, a 2012 Terre D’Etoiles by Domaine Mittnacht for £13.99.

    For some reason, Pinot Blanc from Alsace is seen as the poorer cousin to Riesling and Gewürztraminer, who both take most of the plaudits from this region. Also, rather oddly, is the fact that the AOC laws in Alsace don’t specify the usual amount of 75% needed for it to be labelled as a single variety. So bizarrely enough, there is only 40% Pinot Blanc in this wine, with the rest made up of Pinot Auxerrois??!! In fact, it’s allowable for an Alsace Pinot Blanc to be made up of 100% Pinot Auxerrois!

    There was no great surprise that this wine shows the green fruits and floral characters typical of the region, but a lot less of the aromatics you’d find with Riesling or Gewürz. The nose is full of pears and apples and there’s a secondary whiff of something dairy, perhaps butter or cream. On the palate it’s fresh and light, but the body is surprisingly textured and has the gloopiness to suggest a very well made wine. The dairy comes through much more now, showing a really creamy depth. Everything works in unctuous harmony; the acid, the mouth-feel, the fruit and floral flavours. Overall, this is a very interesting and well-structured wine.

    I reckon a nice goat’s cheese would work really well with this but I only had some Cashel blue to hand, and it kind of did ok, the creaminess of the Irish cheese helping out.

    A very solid 8/10

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