Pinot Blanc (white)

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[Grape Variety]

Pinot Blanc is most commonly associated with the full-bodied dry white wines of Alsace which can be neutral, but can also be quite apple and pear-like in character and act as a very good accompaniment to fish and shellfish.

Image: Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) credit: DWI

It is also grown in Burgundy, although not many producers admit to having it. Perhaps because of its neutral character, it is also extensively used in Alsace as a base for sparkling Crémant d'Alsace. Outside France, it is popular in Italy as Pinot Bianco, Austria as Weissburgunder and grown in parts of Eastern Europe as well as Oregon and California, where Chalone make a speciality of it.

What does it taste like?clean and refreshing
grapey and smoky

Northern star

Author: Michael Garner

Pinot Bianco seems an unlikely variety to be a local hero, but the results prove its superstar status in northeastern Italy, as Michael Garner explains

SPECTACULAR VINEYARDS SHOULD produce equally special wines, and in the Alto Adige, where some of Europe’s highest vines cling to precipitous Alpine slopes, the formidable list of contenders includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. Yet the relatively unsung Pinot Bianco outperforms them all.

Until the 1980s, Italy’s northernmost region produced mainly cheap bulk wine, much of it red, for its traditional markets of Austria and Germany. During the quality revolution that followed, Pinot Bianco was to shake off the shackles of its long-held role as workhouse white and soar to local hero status. ‘Before the 1980s,’ says Hans Terzer, winemaker at the acclaimed St Michael-Eppan cooperative, ‘Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay weren’t recognised as separate varieties and they were both known as Pinot: Verde and Giallo. But even then growers knew to plant Giallo (Chardonnay) lower down the slopes and leave the higher sites for Verde (Bianco).’

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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