The article was first published in The Irish Times, 25th June, 2022
Known as Pinot Bianco in Italy and Weissburgunder in Germany and Austria, Pinot Blanc, which makes a light, summery white wine, is widely grown but rarely gets the attention it deserves. A less colourful cousin of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris (as in Grigio), it can make very good, occasionally excellent white wines. These days it is found mainly in Germany, Italy and Alsace in France. As an ingredient in sparkling wine, it is permitted in Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, Franciacorta in Italy and even Champagne. As a white wine, it tends to be light and refreshing with low alcohol (and therefore a great alternative to Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc), although in Austria it produces some deliciously textured wines, as well as some decadently rich sweet wines.
Most Riesling lovers go a little giddy at the mention of the name Maximim Grünhaus. This is one of the finest and most historic estates in the Ruwer valley, part of the Mosel in Germany, and responsible for some of the most delicate, exquisite Rieslings of all. There are three vineyards, the Herrenberg, the Abtsberg and Bruderberg, that produced wine for the choirmasters, abbot and brothers respectively when it was under church ownership. There is a small plot of Pinot Blanc in the Herrenberg, which produces the wine featured here.
Georg Prieler runs an organic estate on the gentle slopes running up from the Neusiedlersee in Austria. Here he produces an impeccable range of wines including some very stylish Sankt Laurent and several outstanding Blaufränkisch. However, the wines that really impress are his Weissburgunders. As well as the Seeburg here, he offers two superb single vineyard Pinot Blancs. While not cheap, I would rank this alongside great Riesling and Chardonnay produced elsewhere.
The Hans Baer is new to me, but is a great example of inexpensive Pinot Blanc. Aldi and Lidl offered a good well-priced Pinot Blanc last summer. Sadly neither have repeated the exercise this year. I featured the excellent Kuentz-Bas (€16.95/€18.95) from O’Briens earlier this year. Elsewhere Trimbach and Hugel both offer good versions at just under the €20 mark, and Mitchell & Son has one from Sipp Mack for €17.95. At just over €20, Meyer-Fonné, Zinck, and Ginglinger are all well worth trying too. From Italy, Wines on the Green have Pinot Blanc from the highly regarded Cantina Tramin, as well as Schiopetto. I am also a fan of Franz Haas Lepus (€25.50).
As a fresh crisp dry wine, Pinot Blanc is an ideal partner for all kinds of fish and salad dishes. The more textured style is perfect with pork and chicken dishes. Try Alsace versions with onion tart, quiche and flammkuchen, and Italian Pinot Blanc with lighter risottos and frittata.
Hans Baer Pinot Blanc Trocken 2020, Rheinhessen, Germany
Snappy fresh green apple fruits with a racy zesty citrus acidity. A nice aperitif, or with grilled sea bass or white fish.
From: Wineonline.ie; Cheers Gibneys, Malahide; Mc Hugh’s D5; The Vintry, D6; Martins, D3; Londis Malahide; No 21 Cork; Matson’s, Cork; Dalys; Redmond’s D6; Myles Creek, Kilkee Co Clare; Cove Stores, Tramore; Brosnans, Schull; Jus De Vin Portmarnock; Select Carry Out and SuperValu outlets.
Maximin Grünhaus Maximin Pinot Blanc 2020, Mosel, Germany
Brisk and reviving with a charming perfumed nose, crisp citrus, pear and melon fruits, finishing bone dry. Try it with baked or poached salmon with dill.
From: Red Nose Wine, Clonmel; Martins, D3; Redmonds, D6; Wineonline.ie.
Seeberg Pinot Blanc 2020, Burgenland, Prieler, Austria (Organic)
An utterly delicious wine with inviting gently floral aromas, followed by textured pear and yellow stone fruits that linger very nicely. Enjoy it with richer fish dishes, and roast pork or chicken.
From: Martins, D3; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; 64 Wine, Glasthule; DSix, Harold’s Cross.
Dornach 1.2 Yellow Spot 2019, IGT Vigneti delle Dolomite, Italy, (Biodynamic)
A seductive light delicate spring-like wine with fresh herbs, thirst-quenching green fruits, and a crisp dry finish. Solo, with nibbles or light summery salads.