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Humagne Blanche - Pinot Blanc

Humagne Blanche - Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc, Weißburgunder, Fehér Burgundi, Pinot Branco, Pinot Bianco – many names for the same grape depending on where you find it.

Humagne Blanche is a white wine grape variety that can be found in the Valais region of Switzerland. It is also grown under the name Miousat in Gascony. It is one of the oldest Valaisan wines first mentioned in the 12th century. It has an ancient reputation of being the wine of lords and bishops during the Middle Ages and has long been described as a health wine for centuries, especially for women in and after childbirth due to its high iron content.

Today, this old indigenous grape variety is known as the treasure of Valasian heritage, yet it is very difficult to grow and is therefore a rarity even in Switzerland. It is a delicate grape that requires good care and a limited harvest.

Predominantly greenish yellow, Humagne Blanche is produced as a dry wine with fairly low alcohol content. This wine is renowned for its invigorating characteristics. It is a delicate wine with aromas of white blossoms and exotic fruit notes of honey and resin. It is also highly acidic which gives the wine a nice crispness. Its distinctive character develops to its full potential after approximately 3-5 years of storage.

Humagne Blanche is unrelated to the red Humagne Rouge despite the apparent similarity in the name. Humagne Rouge is the name given to Cornalin in Valais.

Humagne Blanche is related to Colombaud which suggests that it derived originally from the south of France and not, as some people suggest, introduced to the region by the Romans.

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Pinot Blanc is a mutation of Pinot Gris, itself a mutation of Pinot Noir. On the vine it looks remarkably similar to Chardonnay. It is usually made into dry or sparkling wines but especially in Austria can make some excellent early Trockenbeernauslese. On the nose it can be floral or perfumed with hints of apple and sometimes tropical fruits. The fruit remains on the palate and there is a much longer finish than you might expect from a white wine. Of course the sweeter wines incorporate qualities that you might expect from that style.

I have asked winemakers a few times why they chose "Pinot Blanc" or "Weissburgunder" and whether they were for marketing or cultural reasons. Usually the answer has been "It looked better on the label that way".

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