Pinot Blanc, The Other White Grape

The Grape Escape: May 12

Want to try something that tastes like a really expensive Chardonnay but is only $11?  If yes, continue to the paragraph below.  If no, feel free to lick the cork of a $50 bottle of Cakebread while you stitch together a suit made out of money.

Actually, what we’re drinking this week isn’t Chardonnay at all.  It’s 2009 Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc, and it’s fantastic.  If I had $15 dollars in my pocket and the choice between an $11 Chardonnay and an $11 Pinot Blanc, I’d pick the latter.  This isn’t because I’m a snob.  It’s because of the way popular grapes are planted in areas where they shouldn’t grow.  As with anything on the market that gets too much attention, quality declines as production increases.  This isn’t true with higher end wines, but quality in the budget bin can suffer as the word gets out.

Thankfully, we have some great ones out there that haven’t been exploited.  It pays to keep an ear low to the ground.

Pinot Blanc is a grape we don’t talk about much.  It tends to hide in the shadows of more popular varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, but I assure you, it could run with the cool crowd if it weren’t so shy.

There isn’t much acreage for Pinot Blanc in California, which means it’s pretty low production and is great for people looking for a bargain.  All the fruit comes from the right areas and usually carries a reasonable price tag (hence the low demand).

2009 Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc retails for $11-$14 dollars and is five times the value of a cheap Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.  This is a wine with class (even though its suit is second hand).

Tasting Notes: Honey on the nose.  Creamy peach and lime with a touch of spice on the palate.  Racy acidity.  It has body and depth that most wines in this price range lack.

Categories: Food