As I frequently say, to those who will listen (and even those who won’t), Pinot Blanc is an under-rated grape. It is most widely produced as a varietal in Alsace, Northern Italy (as Pinot Bianco) and Germany (as Weissburgunder), though often plays an unheralded part of blends there as well. Even the English are getting in on the act (yes Stopham Estate, I’m looking at you!)
When made in a sympathetic way, Pinot Blanc can be both fruity and fresh, with a little bit of body, making it very versatile at the table. Unfortunately, the powers that be in Alsace (primarily the CIVA and INAO) don’t allow Pinot Blanc wines to be granted Grand Cru status when made on the best sites, yet Muscat (in my opinion not as good a grape in Alsace) based wines are permitted under Grand Cru appellations.
Might other Pinot Blanc regions have an answer to this quality dilemma?
In advance of their Meet the Winemaker Portfolio tasting on Friday 6th November (also more details here), JN Wines kindly sent me a bottle of German Pinot Blanc, labelled of course as Weissburgunder (the white grape from Burgundy). It’s quite simply the finest example of the grape I’ve ever tasted!
Salwey RS (Reserve Salwey) Weissburgunder 2013 (jnwine.com, €21.99)
From the Kaisterstuhl (the “Emperor’s Chair”) hills in the wine region of Baden comes Weingut Salwey, producer of several Burgundy varietals. The Reserve Salwey range is made with fully ripe grapes from older vines, vinified to dryness (Trocken is helpfully stated on the back label). White wines are matured in a mixture of large vats (80%) and barriques (20%).
The oak ageing is perceptible on the nose, but doesn’t dominate the apple and citrus aromas. These all flow through to the palate, which is given additional weight by the micro-oxygenation from time spent in wood. It’s a lovely wine which is very enjoyable on its own (just don’t drink it too cold!) or paired with lighter fish and poultry.
Considering the quality, this is an absolute bargain!