Pinot Blanc(ish)

Exploring the complex flavors (and semantics) of Alsatian Pinot Blanc


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Pinot Blanc(ish)
Wine is so confusing! I love a good Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Bianco. But what do I love when it's not necessarily a Pinot Blanc?
Let me explain. Alsace is unique in France, having created its appellation system by varietal instead of region.  Except when they haven't. Alsace Pinot Gris is Pinot Gris, Alsace Riesling is Riesling. But when it comes to Pinot Blanc, we run into semantic difficulty. You see, Pinot Blanc in French can be roughly translated as the white varieties of the Pinot family of grapes. So, while there is a Pinot Blanc grape, there are also Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir (when vinified as a white wine) and Auxerrois in the Blanc Pinot family. 
Yeah, it’s a bit confusing. But what’s even more confusing is that the wine labelled as “Alsace Pinot Blanc” can be a blend of all four of these grapes, though typically one finds the variety Pinot Blanc blended with Auxerrois. (The Auxerrois adds spice and richness, also helping to buffer the natural high acidity of Pinot Blanc.) This lineup of wines showed like classic Alsatian Pinot Blancs, expressing the variety’s floral and spice-accented apple fruits with firm acidity. While they may not be 100% Pinot Blanc, these wines certainly are delicious, perfect for sipping on their own, and fabulous with food. This spring add Pinot Blanc to your seasonal menus. It’s a great way to add some snap to the table, and these wines really do pair very well with the light fresh flavors of the season. 

Alsatian Pinot Blancs

Hugel Alsace Pinot Blanc 'Les Armours' (2009)
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Trimbach Pinot Blanc Alsace Aoc (2009)
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Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc Alsace (2011)
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Domaine Pfister Pinot Blanc (2009)
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Henri Schoenheitz Pinot Blanc Val Saint Gregoire (2010)
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Domaine Mittnacht Freres Pinot Blanc Alsace Aoc (2009)
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  • Snooth User: snoman
    229582 210

    Thanks, GdP, for the Pinot Blanc/Alsace article. Timely, as we just returned from 3 days on the Route des Vins d'Alasace, a GREAT trip. We found tremendous variations in the Pinot Blancs we sampled, and now understand why--never know that these weren't 100% varietals.

    Best one we found (to our taste) was a Mittnacht-Klack Oberberg 2010 Pinot Blanc, obviously related to the Mittnacht Freres you reviewed, from Riquewihr, which showed bone-dry but rich flavors and bracing acidity. Doubt it's available in the US, but the trip was an eye-opener to the region, the innumerable small producers, and was also an incredible visit, that we'd encourage anyone to experience. Fantastic architecture, history, vineyards and food, of course.

    Mar 28, 2013 at 1:50 PM

  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 839

    I am just now starting to become interested in Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris after several decades of pursuing other wines.

    You mentioned how the same grape can have different names and how that can be confusing. Pinot Gris is similar in that it can be called Pinot Grigio, Rulander, Grauer Burgunder etc. All this just keep the consumer mystified.

    Mar 28, 2013 at 3:59 PM

  • Snooth User: Ashwin007
    2212983 13

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    Jul 20, 2018 at 1:30 AM

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