After a dry winter and a warm, dry spring, bud break in Alsace came early in 2011. Flowering followed suit in the midst of record high temperatures, and a potentially large crop was set. From June on however, normal conditions returned, and moderate rains replenished the dry soils. Ripening continued steadily through the summer, and cooler temperatures in August helped keep acidity fresh and sugars in check. It was an early harvest with most sites beginning in the first week of September and many concluding before the end of the month.
Overall, 2011 brought a large crop with good to very good wines that are somewhat round and forward, and should be enjoyable early on in their lives.
It was Hubert Meyer, who, in 1963, added the first three letters of his father's name (J-o-s, from Joseph) to the family surname, forming the brand we know today. The Meyers have been in the wine trade for much longer than that, however; Aloyse Meyer, the grandfather of Hubert, began as a négociant in 1854.
Current proprietor, Jean Meyer, is a well-known gourmand whose wines are among the most food-friendly of Alsace: vibrant, crisp and light on their feet. The Josmeyer Rieslings are minerally, focused, on the dry side and capable of aging, especially at the upper end of the price range. Meyer has been known to pair six or seven of his Gewürztraminer bottlings with multiple courses at a single meal to show the flexibility of his wines with food.
Much of the viticulture here is now being directed by Meyer's son-in-law Cristopher Ehrhart, who drove the recent shift towards organic and biodynamic viticulture. The vineyard, which covers 28 hectares, is planted to 28% Riesling, 24% Pinot Blanc & Auxerrois, 21% Pinot Gris, 19% Gewurztraminer and 8% Sylvaner, Muscat and Pinot Noir.
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.