Like 2010 in much of France, Alsace saw an excellent harvest that produced wines with great concentration and focus, balanced by beautiful acidity and freshness.
The previous winter was cold and long, extending into early March. Bud break was pushed back, and a hard freeze caused damage to some vines. April remained cool but temperatures rose in May allowing the vines to progress. Flowering was late nonetheless, and a swift temperature drop during this crucial period caused further crop loss from millerandage and coulure.
The erratic weather continued into June, which saw a major hot, dry spell during its last week. July was hot, with periods of storms and rain. August was back to wet and cold, and fighting off disease became critical due to the spread of oidium and mildew. At this point in the season the grapes were behind in the ripening cycle. This turned out to be a boon, however, as the grapes felt less impact from potentially damaging rainstorms.
Finally, at the end of August the weather improved, and remained consistent through October. Temperatures slowly tapered off and drying, cool north winds allowed a long hang-time for the grapes, helping to keep sugar and acid in balance.
The resulting wines are focused and intense, with good ripe fruit and brilliant acidity and should have the structure and depth to age well. A classic vintage with many superb wines, but unfortunately a small crop and one that may have some variation given the uneven and crazy weather during the season.
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.