Always the bridesmaid to its more famous relatives, Pinot Blanc is hoping to win your heart.
Being related to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris/Grigio and trying to get wine lovers to notice you must be hard. Both are giants of the wine world and cast a long shadow. Throw in the fact that one of your relatives (Pinot Meunier) is currently experiencing its own revival and you can’t help but feel sorry for Pinot Blanc – the variety that often carries the title of ‘poor cousin’ of the Pinot family.
It is thought that Pinot Blanc originated from the vineyards of France’s Burgundy region, but it is Alsace that is considered the variety’s spiritual home. It is not one of the four Alsace ‘Grand Cru’ varieties, but it is prized for its versatility. It is used to produce light bodied, crisp table wines and is a major part of the region’s famed sparkling wine, Cremant d’Alsace.
Outside France and under the name of Pinot Bianco, Pinot Blanc is planted heavily in north western Italy (most prominently in Alto Adige and parts of Friuli). Dry, crisp table wines are what it’s most commonly used for, but as in Alsace, it is used in sparkling wines, most notably the wines of Franciacorta, Italy’s answer to Champagne.
It is grown in Germany where it makes light, crisp dry wines under the name of Weissburgunder or Weisser Burgunder (literally ‘White Burgundy’). It carries the same name in Austria, but there it is used to produce luscious sweet styles of wines labelled Trockenbeerenauslese.
Outside Europe it can also be found in the USA, Canada, Argentina and Uruguay where it can be made into a style that mirrors those found in Europe – dry table wines, sparkling wines and sweet wines.
Pinot Blanc in Australia
Not a lot of Pinot Blanc has been planted in Australia. In fact, it pales in comparison to the amount of Pinot G that has been planted across the country. Nonetheless, it can be found in regions as widespread as Tasmania, Margaret River, Adelaide Hills, Riverina and the Yarra Valley. It is well suited to a number of different regions, as its budburst is relatively late, it is mid ripening and holds its acidity amazingly well. The first commercial planting of Pinot Blanc was in 1997 at Hoddles Creek Estate in the Yarra Valley.
Did you know?
Pinot Blanc like Pinot Gris/Grigio is a white mutation of Pinot Noir and is one of only seven grape varieties allowed to be used in Champagne.
The most common aromatic and flavour descriptors for Pinot Blanc are apple, pear and citrus fruits. It can also show aromas of white flowers and flint.
The grapes retain acidity well, so the wines have a nervy and refreshing acid backbone. The grapes also have high levels of phenolics, creating chalky grip and texture. Much like Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc presents winemakers with a blank canvas onto which they can apply techniques like oak maturation and lees ageing to influence styles.
Pinot Blanc’s light body means it complements simple shellfish dishes like oysters and mussels. It contrasts well with white fish in a creamy sauce and young soft cheese. It works really well with egg based dishes like quiche or omelettes