Wine of the Week

In the right hands, the pinot blanc can become a sexy wine with lightly perfumed aromas and just enough acid to keep it clean and interesting

Pinot Blanc Should Get Some Respect!

Poor pinot blanc has a reputation for being dull. Famous writer and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson calls the grape "useful rather than exciting." Its main problem is that in most areas, the grape never develops enough acidity. To mature to its highest potential, pinot blanc requires cool to cold climates. Cold weather helps jack up the grape's acidity.

In the right hands, the grape makes a sexy wine with lightly perfumed aromas and just enough acid to keep it clean and interesting. In the grape's greatest areas, places like Alsace or northeastern Italy, winemakers create pinot blancs that are delicious for sipping and pair easily with foods. The side benefit is, since the wine, like Rodney Dangerfield, "don't get no respect," we consumers get great value for our money.

From France's Alsace, both Lucien Albrecht ($18 at Whole Foods) and Paul Blanck ($12 at Spec's) offer charming pinot blancs with almost perfect acidity. In Italy's Alto Adige, winemaker Alois Lageder has figured out how to make wines at a much more reasonable price than his neighbors, many of whom charge double his prices. Lageder's Pinot Bianco ($15 at Grapevine Market) has an apple aroma and nice acidity. North America does a fair job with the grape, especially in British Columbia; unfortunately, those wines seldom make it into the U.S. Valley of the Moon from the Sonoma Valley makes a tasty version ($17 at Twin Liquors), and America's best, though incredibly rare, is from the Chalone Vineyard ($30 and up at Spec's, on the few occasions that it's available).

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

pinot blanc, Alsace, Lucien Albrecht, Paul Blanck, Alois Lageder, Valley of the Moon, Chalone Vineyard

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