Pinot Blanc South Africa’s Own Little Hens’ Teeth Wine
Pinot Blanc? Never heard of it. That was until last night and my mind was blown… AGAIN! This seems to happen to me a lot lately! People have book clubs…me, I join a wine club. Once a month, hosted by the Worcester Wine and Olive Route we get together and taste some delightful wines, which are in Worcester and Breedekloof region. We either meet at a cellar or at someones home. Most often we have a theme for the evening and last nights theme was – Women in Wine!
Stoffberg family vineyards, was very kind to host us for the evening. Winemaker Mariette Coetzee, spoke to us about her wine, her farm and wine-making process. She has some amazing wines and the cellar is a small family boutique, only a limited amounts of wine is available for sale. There is something unique and quite special when a farm makes hand-crafted wine. So much hard work, love and passion goes in each bottle of wine. You can taste the difference.
I had three favourites of the evening – It was Mariette Syrah, Israel Delport Chardonnay (which is a wonderful story and will share this with you soon), and off course the Mariette Pinot Blanc. It was an absolute treat and felt like our wine club was spoiled rotten.
What is Pinot Blanc?
My wine loving friends, Pinot Blanc is a rather interesting story and enjoyed writing about it. Believe it or not, but the Pinot Blanc comes from the Pinot Noir grape. You see, Pinot Noir’s genetic make up is rather unpredictable and unstable. This means that Pinot Noir will sometimes experience what wine folks call a point mutation. This is where a vine would bear all dark fruit except for one canopy on the vine that produces a white fruit.
Pinot Blanc is a full bodied white wine, which characteristics are similar to Chardonnay. It used to be called Pinot Chardonnay many moons ago.
Wine writers with the likes of Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz all claim that Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc are simply a color mutation of Pinot Noir. Each grape DNA was analyzed and found that they are identical . How cool is that?
Pinot Blanc is rather versatile and can be made into a still or a sparkling wine. Pinot Blanc sparkling is quite popular in Alsace.
Characteristic of Pinot Blanc
It has a roundness in flavour and slightly “sweeter” than chardonnay, as it has less acidity. Buttery and citrus aromas on the nose. When it is barrel fermented it is more citrus and creamy.
Pinot Blanc is made to drink now, however if the acidic levels, sugar content and alcohol is at the right levels it can be aged in barrels, which can be kept for 3 to 4 years.
Pinot Blanc in Other Regions
In Europe, Pinot Blanc is quite popular and common. It can is found in Alsace (where it originates), Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Due to the different terroirs, it is rather fascinating to see, how each country in Europe the wine changes in characteristics. For example:
In Italy, Pinot Blanc is called Pinot Blanco or Weisburgunder. It makes an exceptional crisp white wine with notes of lemon, beeswax, and honeycomb. During the 1930’s the Italians crossbred Pinot Blanc with a Riesling and created an Italian blend called – Mazoni Blanco.
Austria it is called a Weiβburgunder and due to the Continental Climate it ripens very well. It is often blended with Chardonnay and oak aged to produce a delightful creaminess.
Weiβburgunder, is also the name the Germans call Pinot Blanc. It grows more in the warmer regions where Riesling can’t grow. The wine leans to a more lighter, drier and crisper white.
In France it is a more common white blend of Alsace. It produces a subtle smokiness with a floral peach on the nose. When oaked, it is a lovely creamy with almond and a hint of apple. It is also used for the sparkling Cremant d’Alsace wines of the region.
Pinot Blanc in South Africa
Brought to South Africa in the early ’90’s it was originally mistaken as Chardonnay, as the grapes looks alike. It was then cultivated in the warmer regions of Ceres, Robertson and Paarl. A few farms has experimented with a single varietal and other farms use it in blends.
It is a cultivar that is not so popular in South Africa. It is as scarce as hens’ teeth. In fact it is so rare I could hardly find much information pertaining to it in South Africa. There is only 8.48 hectares of Pinot Blanc currently growing in our beautiful wine country.
Mariette Pinot Blanc 2016 by Stoffberg Family Vineyards:
It was released in April of 2017, and only 2x 225L barrels of Pinot Blanc was made during 2016. Received a 4.5 John Platter Star. It has been barrel age, if my memory serves me right I think she said 3rd fill for 9 months. I hope I am right, please correct me if I am wrong.
This wine has a melon aroma on the nose and a nutty almond aftertaste.
According to Wine Magazine it had this to say: “It has a lovely citrus, sherry-like nuttiness and some leesy complexity on the nose. The palate is flavourful and thick textured, tangy acidity lending balance, the finish gently savoury.” It received a rating of 86/100 and sells for about R350 at Cellar Door.
Bergpad 2016 by Lanzerac:
The only other Pinot Blanc that I could find was from Lanzerac called Bergpad 2016. It is named after the famous mountain path that runs from the University of Stellenbosch’s sports grounds, Coetzenburg, all along the Stellenbosch Mountain towards Lanzerac Wine Estate in Jonkershoek.
The dominant flavour of the Lanzerac Pinot Blanc, according to their website has a preserved quince, violets, lavender and pears on the nose which follows through to the palate, where creaminess and softness enters at the mid-palate and lingers on the extended finish.
Once again, only limited quantities are available – 1,113 bottles of the BERGPAD 2016 was produced and it sells for R190 for a bottle.
Food and Wine Pairing of a Pinot Blanc:
Pinot Blanc this leans towards a Chardonnay, it will pair well with foods that pairs with Chardonnay. Any dishes that is seafood, a cheese selection, cream based soups and sauces, mildly spiced curry. Mushrooms! Mushrooms will pair well, as it still a member of Pinot Noir it will pair beautifully with earthy foods.
So think of foods like:
- Traditional snoek braaied with apricot jam,
- Springbok fillet seared in the pan with preserved quince,
- Parma ham and pear salad,
- Lemon meringue,
- Avocado and crab salad,
- Creamy Chicken and wild mushroom pasta.
Have you heard of a Pinot Blanc before? Have you tried it? What was your memorable Pinot Blanc?
Wine loving friends, thank you so much for taking the time in reading my article, and remember sharing is caring. If you haven’t signed up already, why not sign up today so you don’t miss another Boozy Article.