The 2008s from Alsace are excellent, racy wines with bright acidity and fine fruit center to balance. Drinking them will be easy, getting there wasn’t. The vintage started propitiously with a cold winter followed by a moderate spring. Bud break came right on time. A dry May saw the vines progressing well, with early flowering sites speeding through the process.
In the second week of June, rain and cool temperatures delayed the late flowering sites, but warmer temperatures later in the month precluded too much damage from colure of millerandage. In the end a decent sized crop was set.
The weather during July and August fluctuated between hot and dry, and cold and wet. July was the wetter month, and managing the vineyards was tricky and labor intensive. The vines were vigorous and disease was a concern. August was better, with the exception of some heavy rains mid-month.
September saw rain and low temperatures during the first two weeks, and dry conditions later in the month. Finally, October started out sunny and dry with good diurnal temperature swings that allowed ripening to proceed without loss of acids. Good weather prevailed until the third week of the month when the rain returned and essentially ended the harvest.
As is often the case, the result of a tumultuous growing season was very good wines – focused, crisp and detailed, with lovely bright acidity and fruit to match that should age quite well.
About Domaine Paul Blanck
Operating out of the village of Kintzheim, Domaine Paul Blanck puts out a staggering array of bottlings from its 36 hectares of vines across six different villages (including five Grand Cru vineyards).
Pinot Blanc Facts
Rich and medium bodied, with hints of honey, tropical fruit, and smoke
Poultry, seafood and pork
Pinot Blanc may not receive the same respect given to noble varieties like Chardonnay and Riesling, or even other Alsatian whites like Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. But at its best, with grapes from low-yielding vines, Pinot Blanc can produce exciting values: creamy, medium bodied wines, with honey-like aromas and flavors.
A relative of both Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc is grown in a number of countries under a variety of names. In Germany, it is Weisseburgunder, while in Italy, it is called Pinot Bianco.
Still, the fact that we are most familiar with the grape as Pinot Blanc is a dead tip-off that the best examples of the grape come from France. In France, Pinot Blanc is most notably grown in Alsace, where it is either bottled on its own, used as a major component in the sparkling wine Cremant D'Alsace, or blended with other varieties in the region's traditional wine, Edelzwicker. We don't see much Edelzwicker, since the export market for this wine is virtually non-existent. But we're happy that we can get a decent amount of single-varietal Pinot Blanc from Alsace; the wine is made in some form by almost every Alsatian winery. These can be rich, sometimes tropical, smoky wines that are low in acidity. Look for offerings from Domaine Marcel Deiss and Domaine Schoffit.
In the U.S., some California vintners are producing Pinot Blanc with the same techniques used to make expensive Chardonnay, including new oak and malolactic fermentation. We're not convinced that this is the best way to showcase the grape, and lean more towards the wines being made in Oregon. Here, vinification techniques more closely follow the model established in Alsace, with fermentation in stainless steel or older oak leading to wines that are rich and smoky. Consider wines from Amity Vineyards and Elk Cove.
Pair Pinot Blanc with poultry, seafood, and pork.