Posted by: tomciocco | June 18, 2011

A FULL DOFF OF THE HAT TO ALSACE’S UNDERDOG: PINOT BLANC

It seems that what most folks who really know and love Alsatian wine treasure most about it is precisely what frankly puts me off a bit: Alsace Riesling, Muscat, and (hard swallow) Gewurztraminer frankly, no me likey. The right Pinot Gris (dry or off-dry) works for me, but too many are to my taste buds, clumsy and hot.

Seen far less often in the market, wines made from “rarer” Alsatian varieties like Sylvaner and Auxerrois paradoxically outnumber Pinot Blanc in terms of total acreage under vine, but both still markedly lag Pinot Blanc in terms of name recognition, but still the unheralded, though somehow still quite familiar Pinot Blanc presses on… Pinot Blanc is the fundamentally un-pigmented member of the Pinot family, with Noir being purple-skinned, and Gris being pink to light red-skinned. The whole Pinot clan originally hails from Burgundy, but our heroine Pinot Blanc (as well as Pinot Gris [a.k.a. Pinot Grigio]) has almost completely disappeared from its homeland, and has for well over a century made itself a second home a ways down the road in Alsace.

Due to the vagaries of the labeling of Alsatian wines in terms of sweetness, Pinot Blanc is one of the few Alsatian grape varieties that is almost invariably vinified dry, so you always know what’s under the cork no matter what is, or is not on the label…In the end, I  just find Pinot Blanc irresistibly charming, amiable, and quite versatile as well – far more than any other Alsatian white variety, and I’m surprised its talents are still so underappreciated. So here’s a tip of the hat from me for a well deserved win for an underdog that for me should be moving up.

I served this wine up with a creamed butternut squash and tomato soup with sage, and then turbot and shrimps with a sort of parsley and cognac beurre blanc with smothered broccoli.

 

Jean Rosen Vin d’Alsace Pinot Blanc 2009 

“White gold” color with a slight greenish cast. Subtle but clear notes of pear nectar, white flowers and minerals with sweet herbs, lime and ginger underlying. The wine in the mouth is soft, “sweet”, and feminine with a solid and moderately rich body balanced by a clean and tidy acidity advancing flavors of cooked wheat berries, applesauce, and fresh quince and apricot. The finish is subtly complex and delicate but still fairly concentrated and long.

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