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Pinot blanc

Best known for making agreeable if simple whites in Alsace, pinot blanc also makes wines with quite a bit more depth and stature in Italy. And while it is only present in Australia in very small plantings, the grape’s ability to retain freshness of flavour and acid in warmer conditions make it a good future prospect.

Also known as

Wines from Alsace and the New World will generally bear the name pinot blanc, while wines from Italy will be called labelled pinot bianco. In Germany, the names weißer burgunder and weißburgunder are employed, while Austria will more commonly use the latter, as well as klevner.

What pinot blanc tastes like

Not an overly intense or aromatic variety, pinot blanc tends to exhibit aromas of white pear, golden apple and white florals. The palate can be simple and light-bodied or taken to quite full richness, such as you might see in Friulian wines in Italy’s north-east.

Vineyard & winemaking

Pinot blanc is an uncomplicated variety in the vineyard, with good acid retention meaning that it can handle warmer conditions, but it is most famously grown in relatively cool sites. Given its gentle fruit profile, the wines are sometimes made somewhat like chardonnay, with ageing in small oak barrels and both malolactic fermentation and lees stirring employed.

Where is pinot blanc grown?

A genetic mutation of pinot noir, pinot blanc likely evolved in Burgundy, then migrated to Alsace and Champagne, where it is still allowed to be used, though it’s barely present in vineyards. Pinot blanc is still nominally allowed in Burgundy, but, again, there are only vestiges of it there. It is in Alsace that the grape has the greatest identity. However, a bottle labelled as Pinot Blanc AC has historically contained other grapes, notably, and often in very high proportion, being auxerrois. Pinot blanc is also a generous contributor to Cremant d’Alsace, the region’s simple sparkling wine.

Pinot blanc around the world

Pinot blanc is grown in Germany, but it is arguably in Austria and Italy where the grape is most valued. In Austria it is grown in Burgenland, as well as Styria, producing both dry and sweet examples. In Italy, the Alpine zone of Alto Adige in the north-east makes well-regarded dry wines, with some examples from single ‘cru’ sites being regarded amongst Italy’s finest whites, while it has similarly high regard in Friuli, though the wines tend to be richer and more full-bodied. Pinot blanc also has a modest presence in both New Zealand and the USA, mainly in California – although the earlier plantings were mislabelled cuttings of the Muscadet grape, melon de bourgogne.

Pinot blanc in Australia

Pinot blanc has a very short history in Australia, with the Yarra Valley’s Hoddles Creek Estate championing the variety perhaps most vocally, as well as being the first to plant it, in 1997. Today, there are modest plantings scattered across cool climate zones, with the Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley, Alpine Valleys, Margaret River and Tasmania currently the key regions.

Some of the best Australian pinot blanc

Billy Button Wines
Clarence House
De Bortoli
Grey Sands
Hoddles Creek Estate
Knight Granite Hills
Lenton Brae
Nomads Garden
Paracombe
Sidewood
Sinapius