2 oz Pours: A Quick Look at Pinot Bianco (#ItalianFWT)




It’s been a minute since I’ve been on here. Work, travel, outside projects, and computer crashes have all been conspiring to keep me away. Happy to be back today though!

Today we’re taking a quick look at a genuine underdog grape: Pinot Bianco . . . or Pinot Blanc or Weissburgunder,  depending on where it’s coming from.

This grape is kind of like the Cinderella of the Pinot family. It’s the white skinned mutation in the group (Noir = black, Gris= gray, Blanc = white, you get the idea), but where it’s siblings often get to play the star, this version is mostly known for being a workhorse, and doesn’t ever really get to stand in the spotlight.

I think that’s actually a great reason to take a second look at it: Underdogs = value. And I love a value. If there are areas that are known for this grape, they’d be Alto Adige in NE Italy and Alsace in France. You can also find it in Germany and Austria. Today we’re going to focus on the Italian versions.

In terms of flavor, Pinot Bianco is most often compared to Chardonnay. It tends to show similar fruit flavors like apples, stone fruits, and citrus. There’s often a little nuttiness to this grape, and even a hint of spice at times. It can be anywhere from light to medium + in body, but there’s often a roundness to the texture even in the lighter versions. Versions from Alto Adige tend to be on the more minerally side of things with more freshness.

Chardonnay haters, don’t let the comparison put you off!  Despite the comparisons, I don’t think Pinot Blanc is  likely to be as divisive. It’s underdog status might be helping it out here. A lot of people that don’t like Chard are actually reacting to the oak treatments that are common with that grape. Oak is expensive though, and as an underdog, Pinot Blanc is less likely to see extensive amounts of it.

Today’s wines are from Alto Adige. You’ll often see the name combined as part of Trentino-Alto Adige. The two areas are each self-governing provinces, but they’re right next to each other, Alto Adige being just north of Trentino. Alto Adige is smashed right up against the Austrian border and was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was reclaimed by Italy in 1919 after WWI, but is still strongly influenced by its roots and German is often people’s first language.You’ll usually see the German name for the region, Südtirol, proudly listed on wine labels in addition to the Italian name. Südtirol translate to South Tyrol in English, and references the Tyrol region or Austria, and the historical Princely County of Tyrol, to which it belonged in the time Habsburgs.


My sister-in-law Becky’s family comes from the town of Moena. This is admittedly in the Trentino half of the mash-up, but thought I’d share a couple of pics my brother Alex sent me of one of their trips there to give you a general idea of the GORGEOUS landscape. We weren’t able to go the last time they went, but we definitely intend to invite ourselves along on a future trip!






Even though I’m focusing on Pinot Bianco today, I highly recommend exploring the wines of this region in general. In addition to beautiful white wines from several different varieties, they also make delicious light/medium bodied reds that are perfect for summer.

Today’s wines were sent to me as samples, but note that as always, all opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.
 
 

Castelfeder Vom Stein Pinot Bianco Südtirol - Alto Adige 2017


(Pictured up top.)

Average Price: Wine Searcher has this listed at $12, but I think $16-$18 is more usual. 

Nose: Lemon, white flowers, apples.

Palate: Lemon and little grapefruit pith, apples, and a hint of white pepper. There’s a hint of cheese rind that adds texture and complexity, leading into a minerally finish. The wine is dry and medium bodied.

About the winery: Castelfeder was founded in 1970 by oenologist Alfons Giovanett.  His son Günther Giovanett took over in 1989. He expanded the vineyard holdings, bringing in new varieties with the new land. He runs the operation with his wife Alessandra and their two children, Ivan and Ines.




Pairing: Greg and I enjoyed this wine with a classic roast chicken dinner with lots of root vegetables. I spatchcocked the chicken and essentially prepared it the same way as this version I did for 8 & $20, but swapped out the Zahatar for thyme and rosemary. The wine made for a really refreshing pairing. It had enough body to complement the weight and flavors in the food. 

For more winemaking details, check out the tech sheet for the 2015 here.




Peter Zemmer Punggl Pinot Bianco Alto Adige 2017


Average Price: $16

Nose: White flowers, green and gold apples, pears.

Palate: Bruised apples, lemon, stone fruits, green melon, hints of spices, Parmesan cheese, and nuttiness with a light herbs and minerals on the finish. The wine is dry, medium bodied, it starts off with lushness up front but leads into fresh acidity on the finish.

About the winery: The winery was established in 1928, Peter Zemmer, the great uncle of the current Peter Zemmer. Helmut Zemmer took over for his uncle Peter after his early death in 1969. His son now carries on the family tradition.

The winery puts great importance on sustainability. All of the winery’s energy needs are covered by renewable sources, such as solar panels on the roof of the winery, that allow them to produce their wines with zero emissions.

Pairing
: We had this wine with butternut squash risotto with salmon. The wine struck a nice balance between speaking to the creaminess of the risotto, while refreshing the palate between bites.


For more winemaking details, check out the tech sheet for the 2015 here



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The rest of the Italian Food,  Wine, Travel (#ItalianFWT) group is also exploring the wines of Northeast Italy. Check out their posts here:

Additional sources used for this post and background reading:
Jancis Robinson.com
Wine-Searcher.com
WineFolly.com
TheSpruceEats.com



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2 comments

  1. I think you've hit on a winning strategy for elevating Pinot Bianco from underdog status: describing it as the anti-Chardonnay! Kidding, but your notes would encourage someone new to the grape to try it. And the pairings look delish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Although not exactly a anti-Chardonnay --- more like a Chardonnay-esque option for those who don't like Chard.

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