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May 24, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

The Approachable Mutant: Pinot Blanc

This week we take a look at the relatively unheard-of Pinot Blanc, a white wine varietal that is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. When vine yields are kept low, Pinot Blanc produces stunning no-frills wines that are very approachable, and this week’s wine of the week is a textbook example.

Remember when it comes to drinking wine to keep one of the philosophies of this column in mind: be liberal with your dabbling, and don’t let popularity dictate your taste. In no way is this varietal inferior just because it hasn’t received the extensive coverage that some of the other white wine family members have.

On a global scale, Pinot Blanc is planted in a diverse range of countries such as Argentina, Germany, and extensively in Italy where the grape is known as Pinot Bianco. In New Zealand Pinot Blanc is certainly classed as a minor variety, with only 17 hectares planted from the Wairarapa down to Central Otago. This is a skerrick of the overall industry grape plantings, which, for your interest, total around 31,000 hectares.

When Pinot Blanc grapes are on the vine they have a radiant green skin and resemble Chardonnay in both colour, leaf structure, and bunch formation. Internationally this has produced problems for some growers who have found they have Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay intermingling in the same crop.

Wine of the Week

If you have never tried Pinot Blanc before, the Mount Edward 2009 Pinot Blanc ($19-21), made with fruit from Lowburn in Central Otago, is a fantastic introduction. Founded in 1997, Mount Edward winery is located in the spectacularly beautiful Gibbston sub region of Central Otago. The wine ethos at Mount Edward is hand-crafted quality, with the winery producing an average of only 6000 cases per year.

Once in the glass, this wine has a floral aroma with hints of spring blossom, white peaches and that crisp, fresh, vibrant aroma of apricot. Not apricot that has gone mushy, apricot that has just hit ripeness.

The wine is off-dry and delicate with a smooth texture that allows it to easily cruise its way around your mouth. The finish is clean with a degree of lushness, as though you’ve just eaten a couple of dried apricots.

If a mild seafood or chicken dish is on the menu I’d definitely recommend this drop as an accompaniment.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Hampers says:

    Nice blog. Being a wine lover, I enjoyed going through your blog. Keep it up the good work.

  2. Raymondo says:

    Thanks Henry. I’m a Pinot Blanc fan, and you’ve given me some more facts on the variety than I knew before!

  3. Benos says:

    Great article Henry. Word is you are a bit of beer Guru aswell. I’ve been hearing alot about this Climax Breweries around the watercoolers at work. Have you heard of them?

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