Wine 27: Pinot Bianco/Blanc

In the vast wine world, there are a number of pinots that exist. I’ve talked about pinot noir before, and pinot grigio/gris is another common one, but are you familiar with Pinot Bianco or pinot blanc? Prior to my trip to Napa a couple months ago, I had never heard of – or at least never paid attention to – this white varietal. While visiting Castello di Amorosa, though, this was one of the first wines I tried and I couldn’t believe I’d been missing out. Yes, you read that right…I just said that about a white wine. ūüėČ

So is pinot blanc the same as pinot noir? The answer…sorta. According to VinePair, when you drink a Pinot Bianco, you’re basically drinking a mutation of pinot noir. Cue the X-men. Pinot blanc and pinot grigio result from a mutation of the genes in the pinot noir grape, so though they technically were the same grape, weird genetic glitches are to thank for introducing these lighter versions. So technically speaking, pinot blanc and noir are¬†not¬†the same, but they were at the beginning.

I should probably also explain that pinot blanc is the grape, but Pinot Bianco is the wine. Sort of like garganega grapes make Soave.

Though found mostly in Italy and Germany (where it’s called¬†Weissburgunder), pinot blanc is also grown in the US. Its vines are high-yield, so in order to maintain a high quality wine, producers will typically thin the bunches or choose to plant lower-yielding clones (amazing what science can do, right?!).

This varietal is a little particular about its “home,” showing its best fruit when grown on high hillsides, where the altitude and cool breezes help regulate temperatures, and where the grapes won’t necessarily get direct sunlight. The fruits really seem to favor ¬†limestone and clay soils. We know pinot noir is a bit finicky and can be challenging to grow, so I don’t find this particularly surprising.

Wine Enthusiast notes that north-eastern Italian pinot blancs are the perfect balance of creaminess and crispness; these wines are both dry and mineral-driven. Although pinot blanc has been grown in Italy since the 1800s, and originally was known for producing exceptional quality wines, there was a period of time where this region focused more on quantity Рbulk wines Рrather than quality. Thankfully, that changed, and the Alto Adige region adjusted their priorities once more so the pinot biancos coming out of its vines are some of the best expressions of this grape varietal.

Pinot Blanc is typically a light-bodied white wine with medium to high acidity, medium-plus (13.5-15%) alcohol, and fairly dry. Some of the primary aromas and flavors of this wine are pear, peach, lemon zest, green almond, and crushed gravel. It seems that overall, Pinot Blancs may be aged for up to 3 years, but as I learned from¬†Wine Enthusiast, some of the Italian styles could even age up to a decade. (People generally use acidity and tannin levels as gauges for whether or not a wine will age well; high acidity and/or high tannin wines usually fall into the category of “cellar-worthy.”) Mostly though, I think this is meant to be drunk young, so if you find a recent vintage I’d say don’t wait to pop it open.

This white wine is meant to be served cold, and pairs well with subtly flavored, lighter dishes. Soft cheeses, salads with cream dressings and fish are excellent options, according to Wine Folly.

One of the reasons I selected this varietal – out of all the other ones to try – was because I fell in love with it when I first tasted it at Castello di Amorosa.

Castello di Amorosa, which sells directly to consumers, produces a wide variety of wines heavily focused on Italian styles. This 2017 Pinot Bianco is made from grapes found in Sonoma County, but the vineyard itself is located in Calistoga, which is part of Napa Valley. (Many wineries have vineyards spread throughout the area. Even though Napa and Sonoma are relatively small, there are vast differences in the soils, making certain locales better suited to grow certain varietals.)

This wine packs a powerful punch at 14.8% ABV! Definitely on the higher end for a white, and something I’d really expect out of a Chardonnay, but not this light-bodied wine.

ie05w1kzrwwp7zopdjavoq.jpgAppearance: This wine was delicately colored, a somewhat straw-like color, and crystal clear.

Nose: I picked up stronger notes of lime zest, crisp, gala apples. There was a slightly salinic nature to the smell, similar to a white wine I previously featured.

Taste:¬†Refreshing and light, this wine brought characters of lemon with a slight bitter flavor. Crisp but finishes smooth with a soft creaminess.¬†Surprisingly, you’d never think this would have the high alcohol level it does!

Overall:¬†Love this white wine. Love. It. I’m only kicking myself now that I didn’t order more bottles of it, but I’m certainly happy I got the opportunity to share it with a few of my girlfriends during our “Tasting Pinots” wine night a couple weeks ago, where we each brought a pinot varietal.

I’d highly recommend Pinot Bianco to the wine drinking world. It’s a shame it doesn’t seem to be as widely produced, but that then speaks to the quality of the wines that actually are availble. Check it out next time you head to your local wine shop!

Next time I’ll be delving back into the reds, so get ready!¬†Cheers!!

4 thoughts on “Wine 27: Pinot Bianco/Blanc

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