Pinot Blanc is not Chardonnay. The most common thing I’ve heard about Pinot Blanc is that it’s like Chardonnay, but different. The reality couldn’t be further from that.
Though a full-bodied white wine, Pinot Blanc tends to be less bold than Chardonnay. I would say it’s a little more elegant than many Chardonnays. But let’s stop the comparison.
Tonight we had a Pinot Blanc from Chateau St. Jean (like the jeans you wear) and it was stunning. We bought this wine last summer when we visited the winery in Kenwood – a must stop if visiting Sonoma Valley.The winery is known more for Chardonnay and Cabernet, but there are many very good wines of other varietals available at the winery.
The fruit comes from the acclaimed Robert Young Vineyard in Alexander Valley. This wine showed aromas and flavors of orange blossom, honeysuckle, pineapple, honeydew melon, pears, blanched almonds and many more. It was quite a complex wine. I was intrigued that’s for sure.
Pinot Blanc traces its roots back to the Alsace region of France along the Germany border. In fact, in history, the region of Alsace moved back and forth between Germany and France four times in less than an 80 year period. Anyway, it’s part of France now and it’s known for Gewürztraminer and Pinot Blanc. Pinot Blanc is also used for blending in sparkling wines and Champagne. Usually a very small amount, but still an integral part in bubbly production.
It’s a fairly small part of California’s wine production, but when I run across a good one, it’s always a treat. Tonight we paired it with a simple meal of fettucine alfredo and garlic bread. Usually a meal I would drink a bigger Chardonnay with, I thought I would substitute a more unique wine.
Next time you think you want a Chardonnay, look for a Pinot Blanc and maybe you’ll be as surprised as I am.
That’s all for tonight, but more to come on the 2011 growing season soon.