by Fred McMillin
for May 12, 1999


The Bashful Blanc


"Pinot Blanc is a shy-bearing vine whose grapes grow in very small, compact clusters. In California, it is often overlooked and underrated."

...Robert Balzer's California Wines

The Rest of the Story

Norbert & Edmund Mirassou One winery that didn't overlook this Pinot was Mirassou. Fourth-generation vintners Norbert and Edmund Mirassou (left to right in photo) planted it in their new, cool Monterey vineyards some 50 years ago. They were too busy increasing sales under the Mirassou label from a trickle to over 100,000 cases annually to spend a lot of time on their Blanc. But critics had kind words, and about a decade ago, Mirassou even introduced a Harvest Reserve Pinot Blanc. That's our Wine of the Day.

Today's Wine

1996 Pinot Blanc Harvest Reserve
Appellation—Monterey County
Critics' Comments—First, speaking generally, the New York Times says Pinot Blanc is livelier than Chardonnay...it has the fruit without the weight. Regarding Mirassou's Pinot Blanc, critic James Halliday uses such words as "crisp stone fruit flavors, with excellent acidity and length." As to this Mirassou 1996, the Wine Enthusiast says "dried peach...light crispness in the finish." They gave it a RECOMMENDED rating, as did my panel.
Food Affinities—Fish, fowl, light pasta.
Contact—Dave Muret, (408) 274-4000, FAX (408) 270-5881
Price—$16 range


Today in California there are something like 50 Chardonnay vines for every Pinot Blanc vine. Such was not always the case. Pioneer journalist Frank Schoonmaker recorded that 60 years ago, for every Chardonnay vine, there were about two of Pinot Blanc. We don't predict that Pinot Blanc will regain that lofty ratio, but we do predict that if you like your whites light and lively, you'll keep a couple of bottles of this Bashful Blanc in the closet.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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