Pinot Blanc is a green grape from France, now reported to be grown in no less than twenty-seven countries.

Characteristics
A hallmark of Pinot Blanc is that the grape nat­u­ral­ly has a high level of aci­di­ty. It is a va­ri­ety with small ber­ries, and is known to have a rea­son­ably good resistance to cold. This explains why it can be found in regions that are known for being if not cold, so at least not that very warm.

Pinot Blanc is used producing dry varietals, sparkling, as well as sweet wines. Its flavours are predominantly citrus, apple, pear, and almond.

Wines
Pinot Blanc is used for the production of a variety of wines; dry, off-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling.

In Germany and Austria, Pinot Blanc is known as Weissburgunder (e.g. this is one of several synonyms), and is produced as dry varietals as well as sweet wines.

In Italy, Pinot Bianco is used for dry varietals as well as sparkling Prosecco.

When from the north-eastern parts, the wines are likely to be characterised by an extra crispiness from the grape’s high acidity.

In France, Pinot Blanc is most likely a found as a dry or an off-dry varietal, or a sparkling Cremant d’Alsace. There are however very nice expressions of Pinot Blanc from many other countries that will be nice to try.

Food pairing
A dry va­ri­etal or a dry spark­ling Pinot Blanc will be a won­­der­­ful com­pan­ion to a Fish or Shell­fish dish. It will also pair nicely with mild Cheeses or light Char­cu­terie such as Parma ham. Serve the wine at 8-10°C/46-50°F.

An off-dry or semi-sweet Pinot Blanc will be a nice pairing with a Cake, even better if with Lemon Curd. Serve the wine at 10-12°C/50-54°F.

A sweet, e.g. a Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese, Weissburgunder, is a marvellous pairing with Mold/Blue Cheese or Foie Gras. The wine is best served at 8-9°C/46-48°F.

Where is it grown?
World-wide, Pinot Blanc, is reported to be planted on 14.792 ha/36,552 ac, making it the fifty-second most planted grape in the world. Countries with the largest plantings are Germany (largest plantings in Baden and Rheinhessen), Italy (largest plantings in north-east, e.g. Venezia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige). Austria’s plantings are fairly evenly distributed with a focus on Niederösterreich. In France, more than ninety percent are planted in Alsace.

  • Germany 3.941 ha/9,738 ac (an increase with 70%), MPG 8
  • Italy 3.086 ha/7,625 ac (a decrease of 38%), MPG 39
  • Austria 1.914 ha/4,731 ac (a decrease of 35%), MPG 6
  • France 1.280 ha/3,162 ac (a decrease of 9 %), MPG 54

Furthermore, there are plantings of between 750 ha/1,853 ac and 300 ha/741 ac in Czech Rep, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Moldavia, and Ukraine.

Plantings ranging from 270 ha/667 ac to very small, e.g. of experimental size, are found in USA, Hungary, Georgia, Croatia, Luxembourg, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, China, Brazil, and Romania.

In fourteen of the countries mentioned above, plantings are new, e.g. no Pinot Blanc plantings were reported in 2000.

History
Pinot Blanc is thought to have originated in Burgundy, most likely as a mutation of Pinot Gris. This, and being very similar to Chardonnay when it comes to leaf structure, clusters and berries, has contributed to the confusion between the two varieties.

It was not until the second part of the nineteenth century that a distinction between the two was “legally” accepted. It is therefore impossible to know how old the variety really is, as it is impossible to know which of the varieties earlier sources actually referred to.