Pinot Blanc, Weißburgunder, Fehér Burgundi, Pinot Branco, Pinot Bianco – many names for the same grape depending on where you find it.
Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and Italy all grow this grape as do many other countries, but it is particularly well known in Alsace.
We think the best Pinot Blancs in the world might actually be made in Austria. In the last 5 years, possibly even further, my favourite Pinot Blanc every year is Austrian. The variety is grown quite widely, but with particular representation in the areas around the Neusiedlersee, Styria, Vienna, Weinviertel and Kamptal. In Austria, even mid-range Pinot Blancs are stylish, with flavours of almonds and good acidity. The best are concentrated, amazingly complex, and age well in bottle, well in excess of a decade.
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".
What to Expect
The wines tend to be a lovely deep ruby colour and the nose is almost physically chewable with lingering black fruits, combining with sweet tones of treacle and caramel and a hint of stewed prunes in the background. Absolutely gorgeous.
On tasting, it is a surprise to find that it is typically lighter in the body than the nose suggested. Flavours of black fruits, especially cherry, come through with hints of plum in the background. Some Zweigelt will give a lot of spice, especially cinnamon. The length of this wine can be astonishing.
Zweigelt is named after its creator, Dr Zweigelt, who crossed St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch in 1922 at the research centre in Klosterneuburg. Whilst crossing two great grapes does not guarantee a greater, this comes pretty close. Both parents are used to making beautiful wine and the child is too.
It was originally named Rotburger and in places is still known by that synonym today. However that can be very confusing as there is another grape, totally unrelated, called Rotberger.
Knowing the parentage of Zweigelt, it is clear that it is the grandchild of both Gouais Blanc and Pinot, making it part of serious grape royalty. It is also a parent of Roesler, also created in Klosterneuburg, an up-and-coming red grape in Austria.
It was the first time I have ordered from Alpine Wines and I just wanted to say that I found the unexpected follow-up call a very nice touch. I am also pleased to report that it was the winning wine for our Austrian evening at our very informal wine club!
Thank you for following up. I have been very happy with the wines so far. There were some I did not like, but this was a matter of taste, rather than wine quality. I never knew much about Austrian wines before and I ordered some just to try them, but have been really impressed and have some new favourites like Zweigelt and Weissburgunder. I had Pinot Bianco before, but have never found it notable, while the Weissburgunder was amazing. I liked the Austrian Riesling, even though it was cheaper than relevant German wine and the Julienas Gamay was so nice. Overall I have been very happy quality and value and will order again.
We primarily drink reds so my expectations weren't high, but it was amazing! I bought the wine for it's sentimental value, but now I'm lamenting the fact I didn't buy more when given the opportunity. I want to say Thank You once again for the amazing service. It's something that we don't experience enough of in our current world.
Delivery within 2 days, wines left where requested and one is able to order half a dozen wines at one time. We have always rated Swiss wines very highly and it is good to find a company that supplies such good quality wines.
I initially found Alpine Wines in a search for a good source of eisweins, which they certainly are. However, having bought a number of other wines from them as well, I have been truly delighted by the quality of the wine as well as their advice on the website and over the phone. Pretty much everything I have ordered has been a hit, and I'm rather picky. Excellent service and an excellent selection, most of which you will not find anywhere else. Truly unique. I will keep shopping here for the foreseeable future.