Though widely planted, Pinot Blanc is considered one of the “other” white wine grapes of Alsace, behind Riesling and Pinot Gris in the pecking order of the long and narrow region in northeastern France that borders Germany.
But Pinot Blanc — like Pinot Gris, a cousin of the red Pinot Noir — can produce delicious, fruit-driven wine values that are well worth trying.
One to consider is the stunning 2020 Pinot Blanc “Tradition” from Emile Beyer, an $18 steal that will give you an instant taste of summer. The wine is actually a blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Auxerrois — the two varieties are often blended in Alsace and simply called Pinot Blanc. They’re also two of the main grapes used in sparkling Crémant d’Alsace wines.
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Grown in clay and limestone soils, Beyer’s Pinot Blanc Tradition explodes with gorgeous fruit, including white peach, apricot, and green apple with hints of strawberry and mango. It’s got a stony minerality and a touch of cream on the finish from aging on the lees in stainless-steel tanks. No oak is used.
This is a balanced and delicate wine that drinks beautifully on its own and will enhance simple dishes like herb-roasted chicken and pork.
To give you a sense of the winemaking tradition in Alsace, the Beyer family has been making wine there for 14 generations, going back to 1580, and today produces a range of wines in its “Tradition,” single-vineyard, and grand cru lineups.
Its Tradition Pinot Blanc shows why Alsace deserves to be on your radar, whether for its delicious whites like this one, its often-distinctive Pinot Noirs, or its crisp and affordable sparkling crémants.
There’s one other thing that makes Alsace stand out: It happens to be the only region in France where the wines are named for the grape varieties themselves. Confusing they are not.