About Domaine Zind Humbrecht
The properties of Zenon Humbrecht and Emile Zind merged in 1959 to form Zind-Humbrecht. The domaine now covers 40 hectares in five villages in the Haut-Rhin; its best parcels from four Grand Cru vineyards: Brand, Hengst, Goldert, and Clos St. Urbain on the steep slopes of Rangen. Master of Wine, and vigneron extraordinaire, Olivier Humbrecht, directs operations here. His supremely rich, complex and concentrated wines are controversial owing to their overwhelming power, often considerable residual sugar and flamboyant personalities. But this is one of the world's great producers of white wine, with no corners cut in the vines or winery. It's hard to choose a favorite variety here, as Humbrecht excels with Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Pinot Blanc. Vendange Tardive wines here are as rich as most producers' Sélection de Grains Nobles. Much of the success here can be attributed to low yields, late harvests, and biodynamic viticulture, which Humbrecht introduced in full in 1998. Depending on quality, between 10,000 and 18,000 cases of wine are produced each year, 75%-85% for export.
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.