A Wine Lover’s Look At Pinot Blanc And Pinot Gris Grapes

The white Pinot Blanc grape originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France, where it once was an important variety. It is found in the Alsace region of northeastern France, and is also grown in Italy, Germany, Austria, Uruguay, Argentina, Canada, California, and Oregon. While Pinot Blanc resembles Chardonnay, experts have determined that these two grape varieties are unrelated. The white Pinot Blanc grape is considered a genetic mutation or clone of the red Pinot Noir.

Pinot Blanc usually has a light, neutral aroma. It is fairly acidic and is often full-bodied. Its skin contains a relatively high level of tannins for a white grape. In Italy it is made into a light, fruity wine, whereas in California it may be highly oaked, in fact, processed like Chardonnay, while costing less. In Alsace it is transformed into still, sparkling, and sweet wines.

Pinot Blanc is food friendly. Suggestions include Thai and spicy Chinese food, Antipasto, Clams, Oysters, Mussels, and Pasta with Cream Sauce.

The white Pinot Gris grape is a variant of the red Pinot Noir; the two usually grow alongside each other. Pinot Gris probably originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France. Written references to Pinot varieties date back to the Thirteenth Century. Pinot Gris is found in the Burgundy region of eastern France and the Alsace region of western France. It is found in Germany, Italy, Central and Southeast Europe, in Australia, and in the United States, particularly California and Oregon where it is the most widely grown white grape.

Pinot Gris wines are yellow to golden with a low acid level and a long, dry fruity palate. They are harvested early in Italy, and much later in Alsace and Germany, where they may yield a sweet late-harvest wine. In many countries the varietal label Pinot Gris tends to indicate a full-bodied Alsace or German style wine tasting of bitter almonds, earth, and ginger. In contrast, the label Pinot Grigio usually indicates a lighter, dry Italian-style wine. Some bottles of Alsatian Pinot Gris wine may be labeled Tokay or Tokay-Pinot Gris, an old name for this grape. The name change avoids possible conflict with the totally different Hungarian dessert wine, Tokaji Aszu.

Enjoy dry Pinot Grigio wines with Mussels, raw Oysters, Salmon, or spicy Chinese food. Enjoy Alsatian Pinot Gris wines with Pork, Veal, Ham and Choucroute – an Alsatian specialty of Sauerkraut cooked with various cuts of Pork.

Over the years I have reviewed a single Pinot Blanc wine, one coming from Alsace. In contrast, I have reviewed several Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines, coming from Oregon, Tasmania (Australia), and Italy.

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