This winning wine from northeast Italy is made from the “other” Pinot — not Pinot Noir, not Pinot Grigio, but Pinot Blanc. Known as Pinot Bianco in Italy, the latter grape often lives in the shadow of the more well-known Pinot Grigio. But it can produce luscious, full-flavored white wines that are worth discovering.
One excellent example is Elena Walch’s 2019 Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige, a cool-climate Alpine region that borders Austria and Switzerland. Here, white wines account for about two thirds of the production.
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Think of Walch’s Pinot Bianco as something between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc — a wine with a generous mouthfeel but with freshness and crisp acidity.
Tastes of apple skin, white peach, and subtle orange are punctuated by herb, mineral, and saline notes. The wine is made without oak, and alcohol is listed at a moderate 13 percent.
The wine is delightful as an aperitif and would be an excellent accompaniment to all kinds of shellfish, sushi, and white meats.
Elena Walch, named after the woman who presides over the property with her two daughters, is a fairly large winery with dozens of offerings, both white and red. I have found the wines distinctive and well made in my tastings of them over the years.
The 2019 Pinot Bianco, at around $18, is a good value and an excellent introduction to a variety and a region that are slightly off the beaten path of Italian wine.