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How To Cool Yourself Off On A Hot Summer Day

June 29, 2019 2 comments

The heat is rising.

Photo by Quốc Bảo from Pexels

This is not a metaphor – the summer is here, the temperatures are pushing up to the “beyond comfort” level, and the question is real – how do you cool yourself off?

Of course, there are lots and lots of solutions – from very low-tech fans, powered by one’s own hand, to the battery operated misters, neck braces and more – but this is the wine blog, remember? Thus we will not be talking about any gadgets, neither low-tech nor high-tech. We are going to proceed with our simple, you can even call it simplistic, approach – “wine is the answer, what is the question?”

To tame down that heat, we are going to ask for the help of mountains, called the Dolomites, or Dolomiti in Italian. The Dolomites are the mountain range located in northern Italy; they are a part of the Italian Alps, and overall they are located in the Alto Adige region. The Dolomites are known for its striking beauty and intense contrasts. The whole area is considered the world’s treasure and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009.

Alto Adige is one of my favorite Italian wine regions, especially when it comes to white wines. The mountain climate, soil, vineyard elevations – everything which we know as terroir, all take part in producing the wines of character. Thus when I was offered a couple of wines from the region for the review, I gladly said “yes, please” – with or without a summer, Alto Adige, Trento, and all of the sub-regions, such as Vigneti delle Dolomiti, always promise to surprise you, and generally, in a good way.

Terra Alpina wines tops

The history of Alois Lageder started in 1823, first as a wine merchant business in Bolzano. Next generations of Lageder family started acquiring vineyards and experimenting with making the wine, and in 1934, Alois Lageder III purchased wine estate in Alto Adige, which became the starting point of the modern period for Alois Lageder Estate. With attention to the quality becoming paramount since the 1970s, today Alois Lageder’s 125 acres of the family estate are farmed biodynamically. You can visit the winery’s website for more information – it is not only the information, you will also find some stunning photographs there.

In addition to producing more than three dozens of different wines, Alois Lageder is also involved in the number of special projects. One such project is called Terra Alpina and it is dedicated to the striking beauty of Dolomites, it is an attempt to convey that beauty in the liquid form – take a look at this picture:

Source: Terra Alpina by Alois Lageder website

The wines in the Terra Alpina project produced via the partnership with local grape growers and winemakers in the Vigneti delle Dolomiti area. Currently, there are two wines produced under the Terra Alpina label, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio – these were the wines I received for the tasting.

When the wines arrived, at first I even thought I got two bottles of the same wine – they looked very similar. After a few seconds, I figured out that this was not the case, and those were actually different wines. While the bottles looked similar on the outside, once I opened the wines, there was no question of similarity – the wines were beautifully and distinctly different, with Pinot Bianco strongly minerally-driven, and Pinot Grigio showing a perfectly noticeable, but the well-balanced amount of fruit – you can see my notes below.

Were these wines capable of delivering on the “cooling off” promise? Perfectly so. While different, both were fresh and bright, dropping a few degrees off a summer heat with every sip. The wines would be perfect on its own, but they would also play very well with food. And please make no mistake – while the wines offer a welcome relief to the summer heat, these are excellent, year-around, versatile wines, which offer a great value, and perfect for any day, and every day.

Terra Alpina wines with glasses

2018 Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Pinot Bianco Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT (12.5% ABV, $15)
Straw pale
Touch of sweet apples, lemon, minerality
Crisp but buttery, noticeable salinity, minerally driven, dry, refreshing, lemon, lemon finish.
7+/8-, very nice

2018 Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT (12.5% ABV, $16)
Light golden, a shade darker than Pinot Bianco
Intense, tropical fruit, guava, candied lemon, honeysuckle
Crisp, also a bit buttery and round, fresh lemon, vibrant, refreshing, delicious.
8-/8, excellent, passes room temperature test with flying colors

Here is my summer cooling off story. What’s yours? Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Few Words About Wine Blogging, FLX Riesling #WineChat Tonight and more

September 10, 2014 2 comments

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer to the wine quiz #113: Grape Trivia – Pinot Blanc.

In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about white grape from the Pinot family, Pinot Blanc.

Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Below is the list of some of the countries growing Pinot Blanc. Sort this list by the area plantings of the Pinot Blanc, from the lowest to the highest:
a. Austria, b. France, c. Germany, d. Italy

A1: Might come as a bit of a surprise, but the correct sequence, based on the 2010 data,  is France (3,230 acres), Austria (4,785), Italy (7,715) and Germany (9,675)

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are Pinot Blanc wines rated in the Classic category

A2: True. By a very slim margin, but there are 2 Pinot Blanc wines with the 95 rating (there are plenty in the Outstanding, 90-94 range). As a matter of fact, one of those 95 pointers comes from the New World – 2009 Erath Pinot Blanc Dundee Hills Sweet Harvest from Oregon got that “classic” rating in April 2011 issue.

Q3: In Europe, Pinot Blanc was often confused with and often treated during winemaking the same as _______

A3: Chardonnay. Historically, Pinot Blanc was growing side by side with Chardonnay, and was often confused for one. Similar to Chardonnay, it can be made in both unoaked and oaked styles with equal success.

Q4: In California, the grape which was brought in as a Pinot Blanc, in reality happened to be  ____?

A4: Melon de Bourgogne, French grape used in the production of Muscadet wines.

Q5: True or False: from 2000 to 2010, worldwide plantings of the Pinot Blanc dropped more (percentage-wise) than the plantings of its sibling, Pinot Gris, have increased.

A5: False. From 2000 to 2010, the plantings of Pinot Blanc dropped by about 15%, while the plantings of Pinot Gris more than tripled worldwide.

When it comes to the results, I’m glad to say that the number of players took a stub at this quiz – but, somehow the quiz happened to be somewhat difficult (I usually miss the difficulty in my own assessment, unfortunately). Nobody was able to answer all the questions correctly, but I would like to acknowledge Next Stop TBD who got correct answers for 3 questions out of 5. Thank you all for playing!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

Alfonso Cevola, who writes an excellent blog “On the wine trail in Italy”, shared his sad outlook on the wine blogging community with the post titled Wine Blog Death Watch: Two wine blogs that are bright lights in a forest of darkness. Well, it is not all doom and gloom in that blog post. First, Alfonso introduces two new wine blogs which he likes. And may be most importantly, speaking from the 9 years of blogging experience, he also gives an advice to the wine bloggers. His advice is very short and concise, and I would dare to say, literally the best you can get. Alfonso has only six bullet points, so taking just the key items themselves, here is a summary of what he suggests: “Write for yourself. Read great writers. Do not look at stats. Write consistently. Don’t follow the trends. Find your niche.” Touche. I can only add “amen”.

Tonight we will take a deep dive into the world of Finger Lakes Rieslings – the #winechat with 8 producers, 8 excellent wines from the 2013 vintage – join the conversation! The logistics are as usual – at 9 PM eastern, open a twitter client and search for #winechat – from there, the conversation is on, and don’t forget to use hashtag #winechat on all your tweets.

Do you know that when you drink the wine (or any alcohol for that matter), you should have water in between the glasses? It supposed to prevent hungover (some of the latest research suggests that it might not be true, who knows), and water is generally good for you. Some of the creative types designed nested glasses which would simplify this task for you – both wine and water are readily in your hand at any time, wine glass on top of the water glass. You can read about this glasses in the Dr. Vino’s blog post.

Got a bit of time on your hands? Wine Spectator is running an annual wine video contest, and you can help to decide who made the best video. Wine Spectator selected 9 videos as the finalists, so your job would be simple – watch those videos and decide who will be the Grand Prize winner. Here is the link to the page for you to watch the videos and take vote.

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #113: Grape Trivia – Pinot Blanc

September 6, 2014 7 comments
Pinot Blanc Grapes. Source: Wikipedia

Pinot Blanc Grapes. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series,  and today’s subject is Pinot Blanc.

How many of you can consciously remember that they had a Pinot Blanc wine? Yeah, I thought so (and I’m doing a quiz about it – not very wise, huh?). Well, what else we can expect if the grape is a mutation of a mutation, right? Pinot Noir, proudly presiding  over the Pinot family, is a very mutation-prone grape. So first, there was a Pinot Gris, a grey-colored mutation of the Pinot Noir. And Pinot Blanc – yes, you guessed it – is a mutation of a Pinot Gris.

Nevertheless, Pinot Blanc used to be quite popular world wide. In the 1700s, plantings at the famous Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy had 20% of the Pinot Blanc – now there are none. Pinot Blanc still allowed to be used in Burgundy in the wines labeled Bourgogne Blanc, but the plantings of Pinot Blanc in Burgundy are practically non-existent. Same story is in Champagne, where Pinot Blanc is allowed to be used, but practically never is. Even in Alsace, where the grape still is widely planted, Pinot Blanc stands in a very interesting position. Alsace is the only region in France where the name of the grape is always put on the label. However, event if the label says “Pinot Blanc”, any of the Pinot family grapes ( including unvinified Pinot Noir, which will produce clear juice), can be used in the Pinot Blanc wine.

One of the major characteristics of the Pinot Blanc is its neutral taste. The grape has good acidity, and the neutral taste allows it to be added to the blends for the body and acidity, and also to be vinified on its own, with and without oak, allowing terroir to shine through. Then in the times when everybody are looking for differentiators, that neutral taste works against the grape. Also, Pinot Blanc grows in the tight clusters, thus it requires dry conditions to avoid the mildew setting in. Looking on all these challenges, it is not surprising that the worldwide plantings of Pinot Blanc are declining. But – the grape is still planted in literally each and every major wine producing country, and don’t worry, it is not going to disappear any time soon, as it is still one of the 30 most planted white grapes in the world.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Below is the list of some of the countries growing Pinot Blanc. Sort this list by the area plantings of the Pinot Blanc, from the lowest to the highest:
a. Austria
b. France
c. Germany
d. Italy

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are Pinot Blanc wines rated in the Classic category

Q3: In Europe, Pinot Blanc was often confused with and often treated during winemaking the same as _______

Q4: In California, the grape which was brought in as a Pinot Blanc, in reality happened to be  ____?

Q5: True or False: from 2000 to 2010, worldwide plantings of the Pinot Blanc dropped more (percentage-wise) than the plantings of its sibling, Pinot Gris, have increased.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

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