Grasping the Grape: Pinot Blanc

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Say It Right: Pee-no Blonk

Other Known Aliases: Weissburgunder (Vice-burg-under), Pinot Bianco (Pee-no Bee-ahn-ko)

Think of Pinot Blanc as the mini-van of varietals: the safe bet you pick for its utility and affordability.

A white mutation of Pinot Noir, the grape is often described in very middle-of-the-road terms. It’s light to medium-bodied, dry, with a mellow acidity and round, soft flavours of apple, pear and white peach. More often than not, it’s presented as a kind of basic, less ambitious option for fans of unoaked Chardonnay. Even its best-known wines rarely get more than a modest applause. In Alsace, it makes a lot of easy, still whites and is an important component in the blend for the region’s Champagne-method sparkling wine (aka Crémant d’Alsace). But it hardly competes in the same league as wines made from Riesling, Gewu?rztraminer and Pinot Gris. You can also find significant amounts of it in the northeastern Italian regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia and Alto Adige, where it is known as Pinot Bianco. Here again, it is made in a light, Chardonnay style, or blended with Chardonnay to make sparkling wine.

In Germany, Weissburgunder is treated with a little more respect. In addition to being made in the dry, tart style, it is also being produced as a riper expression with light oak aging to add complexity. And in Austria, beyond making crisp whites, the susceptible-to-botrytis varietal is also behind some exceptional sweet wines.

And if nothing else, it’s prolific, also being grown in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovenia and the USA.


Notable Regions

Northeastern France (Alsace, Moselle), Luxembourg, northeastern Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Canada and Oregon, in the USA.


Drink It With

Lightly sauced white fish and shellfish; simple omelettes and quiches; roasted chicken or chicken salad sandwiches and vegetables.


Key Words

You like easy, neutral white wines; don’t want too much acid, body or fruit flavour.


You Might Also Like

Basic-level French Chardonnay (Bourgogne Blanc, Mâcon-Villages or Beaujolais Blanc), Verdicchio, Sylvaner, Oregon Pinot Gris and California Sauvignon Blanc.

More from Grasping the Grape:

Sure, drinking wine is all fun and good times, but learning about it isn’t always as easy. With Grasping the Grape, Maryse Chevriere seeks to be like that friend from school you went to for help because they took the best notes in class (complete with visuals). Featuring profiles of more than 30 of the world’s most prominent grapes, this guide to wine gives you the quick download on all the essentials: What the variety tastes like, where it’s grown, what wines it’s known for, what to drink it with, how to describe it and which other grapes to explore if you’re a fan. Because when it comes down to it, learning the grapes is the best way to start your journey into wine. In Grasping the Grape, you’ll also find information on key beginner wine drinking topics like how to become a better shopper and FAQs about rosé, as well as a handy plan of action for food and wine pairing, and a drinking game to help you become a sharper taster. If you weren’t grasping for a glass of wine before, you will be after this.

Excerpted with permission from Grasping the Grape by Maryse Chevriere, published by Hardie Grant Books, August 2019, RRP $14.88 hardcover.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.