A month into summer and we’re already pining for fall. New Yorkers are clutching iced coffees, flocking “out east,” and rejoicing in all that is air-conditioned. Oh, and we love very cold dry white wine. Every season, I am drawn to a particular region, style or varietal. Not in that eureka sort of way but more so the “where the heck have I been” way.
This time, it came in the form of Pinot Blanc. The somewhat overlooked [white] sheep of the Pinot family shines along the latitudes between 47.5-49.5 degrees in Central Europe. A fellow wine pro referred to it as the “mayonnaise” of white wine, meanwhile toting the greatness of Pinot Gris. Yes, if traditionally made, Gris could be more complex with a broader flavour profile but those wines are rare and taste better in the fall. On the other hand, with ease, Pinot Blanc is an oasis in the sweltering heat. It has been mistaken for Chardonnay and is generally vinified and aged without oak. Grown under the right conditions and supervision, this grape expresses taut acidity with slight minerality nuzzled in a pouch of fresh white petals and soft fruit. Chilled and served at 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit, they are easy to enjoy and are downright refreshing!
Early this spring, I tasted the Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc from the Alsace. The Domaine prefers lower yields to ensure the best quality fruit and they allow the climate to work its magic in the vineyards. The grapes are harvested by hand and pressed slowly to harness all of its goodness. From a region revered for its dry whites, Cattin’s offering is delicate and well-balanced.
Every summer, we are inundated with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. There is no shortage of it, but we do dig tasting the marginalised whites of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Adriatic, and the occasional wildcard. One day, Mark Lightfoot came through the door trumpeting a producer he was keen on. From the Pfalz River in Germany, he broke out Weingut Geissler’s Pinot Blanc Kabinett Trocken. So, we gave it a shot and were impressed. Fresh and not too light, it shows touches of honeydew, grapefruit and an intense minerality.
Rounding up the European selection is a wine produced by the distinguished wine maker Christof Hopler from Burgenland, Austria. Hopler’s wines express an idea of clarity, balance, and finesse. The Pinot Blanc sees the slightest bit of oak that acts as a foundation to the ripe juice and fresh citrus; a wine of true quality. A perfect accompaniment after sunset, make sure to have a lobster roll nearby.
All of these tasty critters are available at Sea Grape Wine Shop 512 Hudson St in the West Village ranging from $16-$20.