On Monday during our tasting with our local MW, he threw us a curve ball with a slightly sweet Pinot Blanc from Alsace. Fair enough, as it’s a “Light Wine of the World” (which is the official title of this section, Unit 3 of the WSET Diploma) but it was one of those wines about which you’re much more likely to read than to ever encounter in a tasting. Pinot Blanc itself is well known enough as a grape, but neither as popular as it’s siblings, Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris/Grigio, nor as commonly found as a varietal wine. It’s also not very widely planted outside of France.
Likewise, Alsace is a fine region, well regarded throughout the world for a certainly style of wine made from a handful of classic grape, and likewise a distinctively elegant bottle style which is used around the world for Riesling. Even in Alsace though, Pinot Blanc is not generally considered “noble” and is permitted in only a few of the Vendage Tardive, Sélection de Grains Nobles, and Grand Crus.
So essentially, for the purposes of study, I am fully prepare to consider a Pinot Blanc from Alsace (or anywhere really) as a curiosity that is not worthy of further study because there are so many other things I really need to commit to memory prior to the exam.
Then today at lunch, on the wine list was a Pinot Blanc from Alsace by the glass. Great. Of course I had to have a glass, and here is my write up.
The wine is “The Furst…” Pinot Blanc from Alsace, 2010. Unfortunately, I can’t link to a producer because they don’t seem to be online anywhere. Secondary sources suggest the wine is from the AOC Alsace Kayersberg, and the name is a shortening of Furstenum, which is in the general vicinity of Kientzheim/Sigolsheim in the Haut-Rhin. (I’m not sure any of that helps.)
So, about the wine. It is without faults, though without distinction. Part of it is my fault, in that this is not a variety with which I have great familiarity, and therefore I’m not able to judge typicity.
Typicity is my new favourite word, and it means essentially that something is a good example of whatever it is supposed to be, and in the land of the WSET Diploma Exam, that is a good thing. As a winemaker, you may or may not strive for it. It may be your decision to strike out in your own direction and in doing so strive for something unique. As a student though, I appreciate typicity because it gives me a fighting chances of being able to figure out what something is when served blind.
So I can’t really say if this tasted how an Alsatian Pinot Blanc is supposed to taste, but here’s now it did taste – crisp, citrusy (in particular of pink grapefruit), with lots of mediums across the board. Not overly complex or intense, but well made.
Clear and bright, pale lemon colour and slow thick legs.
Clean and youthful, with medium intensity of lemon, grapefruit, and white flower. I think I should have been able to pick up pear and stone fruit, but I didn’t.
Dry, with medium acidity, no tannins, medium-minus alcohol, medium-minus body, medium-plus flavour intensity of lemon, grapefruit, sour candy and some grapey/Muscat notes. It had medium length with a slightly sour finish.
This is a good quality wine, and while the flavour is a bit stronger and out of balance with the body and the alcohol level, the intensity on the palate (if not the nose) was pleasant. The flavours were relatively one dimensional, and the length was average, but it was without faults and very easy drinking. While the wine was youthful, it is not made in a style to age, so I would drink this wine within the year.