Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pinot Blanc - Domestic and Imported

Pinot Blanc is an interesting grape. Genetically, it's a mutation of the legendarily genetically unstable Pinot Noir. Often treated like Pinot Chardonnay in America and treated with malolactic fermentation and oak aging, it's is treated with a lighter touch by those who know it better in Alsace, where it is a more important variety.

In Alsace it often makes more compelling wines than the more popular Pinot Gris, another Pinot Noir mutant.

There aren't a lot of great examples form California, but I'd argue that one of the best is that of Valley of the Moon, a Sonoma winery that has developed an easy-drinking, ripe, melon and apple-flavored Pinot Blanc that satisfies Americans' craving for richness without adding unnecessary oak or other trickery.

The 2009 Valley of the Moon follows in a series of good examples of the grape. They're not necessarily world-beaters, but they're great examples of the kind of easy-drinking wines that California is capable of producing from Pinot Blanc. The winery seems to have a genuine, sincere vision of what they want out of the grape, and it's a charming one. I hope they keep it up.

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