by Fred McMillin
for December 18, 1997

The New Kid on the Blanc


  • Pinot Blanc was first observed at the end of the 19th century in Burgundy...Jancis Robinson.

  • 1941—Pinot Blanc is one of California's better white wine grapes, but is so rare that it ranks almost as a collector's item...Frank Schoonmaker
The Rest of the Story: So, Pinot Blanc is a new kid on the block, having evolved from the purple Pinot Noir only a century ago. It produces a weighty, densely-flavored wine, particularly when a touch of oak is added. The above British critic Jancis Robinson notes that "in California's beloved blind taste-offs many Pinot Blancs have performed extremely well 'against' Chardonnays. My panel agrees. In our 'beloved' blind tasteoffs, here's the latest Pinot Blanc that scored just as highly as a group of Chardonnays in the same, $14 price range.

The Wine:
1995 Pinot Blanc, Monterey County
J. Lohr Winery, San Jose, CA.
Winemaking—Fermented and aged in French oak.
Contact—Mark Dirickson, Marketing Director, (408) 288-5057
Food Affinities—Serve with the same fish and fowl dishes that go well with a Chardonnay.

Postscript: Pinot Blanc juice tends to oxidize and turn brown rapidly. How does Lohr avoid this? Piece of cake. They harvest in the cool of the October night, press in the field, and get the juice into a cool tank truck on its way to the winery before the sun rises. (For the technically inclined, a reduction of 10 degrees Fahrenheit cuts the oxidation rate about in half.)

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 and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the eGGsf

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