Love is blind, especially when it comes to wine tasting . At a recent dégustation à l'aveugle I was poured a glass of very pale white wine - which was so appealing, smooth and complex carrying lifted berries notes with noticeable buttery aftertaste. It seemed to be an endless guessing game as no one at the tasting was able to identify the (white) variety of the wine. When the result was disclosed, my jaw fell to the floor and I was in love… Who would have thought this pleasant exception white is made out of Pinot Noir, and it’s from Marche, Italy (tasting notes below).
Yes, you hear it right! It was a Pinot Noir WITHOUT the noir. The red grape diva has moved beyond Champagne, rosé and rouge to challenge the palates of White wine drinkers. Contrary to amber wine or orange wine (or white wine with skin-contact, precisely, according to Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier), white Pinot Noir is made in the opposite way that it’s being pressed, fermented and aged with extreme attention and very limited or without contact with the red grape skins.
Chateau de Laborde Blanc de Pinot Noir 2016
Ever since the blind tasting, my sensual intelligence has enhanced and beckons me to pay very close attention to grape varieties. And I was then led on a journey to the unusual discovery of blanc de Pinot Noir in three regions: Oregon and northern Italy. Lately this new gem has extended its presence to the land of important red - Burgundy.
Somewhere in Hautes Cotes De Beaune, Hervé Kerlann of Château de Laborde is probably the ONLY winemaker making still white wine out of Pinot Noir while others in the same region produce only red, rosé and crémant de Bourgogne.
Kerlann found the limestone and terroir condition very suitable for the whites and decided to do something unique with its Pinot Noir, which is planted with the same clone as Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epenots. He hand harvested with very small cases and crafted it in Champagne style, with fewer than 3000 bottles produced yearly. The result is something you cannot find from, say, a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, etc. There’s no comparison and by far, no benchmark rate for white Pinot Noir.
Not to confused it with Pinot Blanc (another white variety), the COMMON SYNONYMS of Pinot Noir Blanc are: Pinot d’Alsace, Blanc de Noirs, Burgunder, Blanc de Noir Spätburgunder, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Pinot Nero Bianco (Wine Folly).
White Pinot Noir has indeed developed a cult following in the oenophile world. Due to its scarcity and uniqueness, it’s quite hard to track down a bottle here in Asia. However, we’ve managed to source some directly from the wineries to please our adventurous drinkers. Here are our picks for those who are happy to splurge on:
Domaine Serene White Pinot Noir
One of the most major Pinot Noir Producers in Oregon, this Williamette Valley-based sets a bar when it comes to luxury. Allen Carter, general manager at Domaine Serene uses some of their best fruit of the vintage to make sure that Coeur Blanc is a complex and serious wine.Domaine Serene Coeur Blanc 2016 (buy)
Degustation: The 2016 Coeur Blanc shimmers beautifully in the glass, with a brilliant pale yellow hue. An alluring bouquet of cherry blossoms and confectionery aromas fill the air. Super clean and silky the palate is focused and crisp with an essence of fresh ginger and Meyer lemon. An unbelievably classy wine, it delivers a polished mouthfeel with a long, lingering creamy finish.
During the Napoleonic Empire the French administration in Pesaro, Marche brought in Pinot Noir, which for since 1861 have been preserved by the FATTORIA MANCINI family. The climate and terrain on Italy’s Adriatic coast are considered to be ideal for the cultivation of Pinot Noir. This wine produced by pressing whole bunches with the upmost care to minimize skin contact and color extraction. It is then barrel fermented and aged on lees, in barrel for 9 months.Fattoria Mancini Impero Blanc de Pinot Noir 2017 (buy)
Degustation: Impressively distinctive wine that shows wood spice and bright red apple and peach aromas. Quite full-bodied and not unlike a Côte de Nuits white, it is balanced and exudes a subtle herbal freshness with a hint of sweetness.
Herve Kerlann of Chateau de Laborde
Winemaking: Early Harvest to preserve the freshness. Hand Harvest with small cases. Champagne style gentle pressing by different levels of pressure to enable a free-run juice extraction and obtain a sweet and acidic juice. Cold settling. Half of the cuvée is fermented in tank for the freshness and tension and half in old oak barrels to bring a rich aromatic complexity.Chateau de Laborde Blanc de Pinot Noir 2017
Degustation: The wine is bright, pale yellow. The bouquet is redolent of white peach and citrus. Palate is fresh and zippy with a beguiling texture.
Other articles on WHITE PINOT NOIR:
Mercury News: https://www.mercurynews.com/2014/04/14/wine-white-pinot-noir-like-champagne-without-the-bubbles/
Wine Folly: https://winefolly.com/review/white-pinot-noir/
Vine Pair: https://vinepair.com/articles/white-pinot-noir-is-rare-refreshing-and-quietly-trending/