Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.
Oregon has come to be known for it's world class Pinot Noir, and rightfully so. It's some of the most beautiful wine you'll find in the new world. But Oregon, and most specifically the Willamette Valley is far from a one trick pony. Chardonnay is finally starting to get the notice it deserves here, as well as Riesling and the seeming "obligatory" white wine, Pinot Gris. While I feel like the Chardonnays and Rieslings are really coming into their own, I'm not as big a fan of Oregon Pinot Gris. Sorry, just being honest. I feel like generally it's a bit dull.
One Willamette white wine however, that's both wildly under-rated and misunderstood is Pinot Blanc. Let's clarify a few things shall we. Pinot Blanc is not white Pinot Noir. Those of you with rudimentary French skills, like myself may have mistakenly come to this conclusion. Some folks are starting to make a White Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, but it's called White Pinot Noir and let me tell you, it's delicious. (Please don't ever assume it's like White Zinfandel is to Zinfandel, nothing could be further from the truth.)
Let's dig into Pinot Blanc a bit shall we?
Pinot Blanc is a mutant. Like the X-Men but real. Also, it's very much not like the X-Men because it's just a wine grape. Pinot Noir is a bit unstable and so it's not uncommon for it to have a few one-offs or mutations show up on the vine, everything's going fine and there's all these dark clusters and then, BAM! white grapes on a shoot or two, one such mutation is Pinot Blanc.
Pinot Blanc has come into it's own, mostly through the Alsatian wine region, it's a grape that factors into Cremant d'Alsace as well as the Pinot Blanc varietal, which actually doesn't have to be all Pinot Blanc, it can be Pinot Blanc, but it can also be Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and the aforementioned white Pinot Noir. Alsatians, confusing. The grape can also be found blended in Burgundy and Champagne but for the most part it is fairly under-appreciated.
Oregon might just put Pinot Blanc on the map. If folks would take the time to put down the often times drab Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc might just surprise you. Aromatically more interesting and ranging in styles from a bright, crisp and sharply acidic wine to one with a bit of rounded character, Pinot Blanc might just be the other Oregon Pinot.
(As an aside we're giving away a pair of tickets to a Seattle wine event, Blend this coming Wednesday, head on over to our Facebook page to participate in the competition.)