Recent Sips of Other Interesting Whites
Two surprisingly outstanding Pinot Blancs are included in this list of wines. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris arose as
independent somatic mutations of Pinot Noir. Somatic mutation is a natural mechanism that allows plant
growers to develop new cultivars. Research reported in the Journal of Experimental Botany (November 2012)
found that this mutation of Pinot Noir arose independently from the ancestral Pinot Noir, suggesting a novel
parallel evolutionary model.
Pinot Blanc is fairly widely planted worldwide, but has never received the attention accorded other major white
varieties. It probable has garnered its most notoriety from examples grown in northern Italy and Alsace. Its
flavor profile mimics Chardonnay, but is lighter and less assertive. New World styles of Pinot Blanc range from
a stainless steel fermented, bright, mineral-driven and timid wine to a wine resembling a fat, creamy
Chardonnay. Many examples are driven by subtlety, sometimes to the point of blandness, giving the wine a
bad rap. No one can say for sure exactly what a great New World Pinot Blanc should be, but the two examples
reviewed here will point the drinker in the right direction.
2011 Cutruzzola Riven Rock Vineyard San Luis Obispo Riesling
12.5% alc., $22. Fermented in
Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, vanilla, oiled wood
and leather boot. Enjoyable flavors of lemon and white peach with a hint of petrol in the background.
Slightly creamy with good finishing acidity. A unique expression of dry Riesling.
2013 Dutton Goldfield Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Riesling
13.2% alc., 380 cases, pH
3.31, TA 0.56, residual sugar dry, $30. From a dry farmed vineyard planted by the Corda family in
1991 to several varieties. When Mark Pasternak took over the farming, he budded everything to Pinot
Noir except for 4 acres of Riesling. Harvest in two picks - one on October 22 and one on November
26. 100% stainless steel fermented.
Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Lovely aromas of
peach, grapefruit and a touch of floral goodness. Juicy and flavorful, featuring crisp notes of citrus
and white peach with some pleasingly discreet richness, slight creaminess, and a bone dry finish.
2013 Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Shop Block Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Blanc
12.8% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.56, 339
cases, $25. Warren Dutton’s original Graton Road ranch was planted
to French Colombard and Gray Riesling when purchased in 1964. In
the 1970s, he replaced the Riesling with apples and French Colombard.
When it was time to replant the block in 2003, the Duttons decided on
Pinot Blanc to augment the adjacent Chardonnay. The vineyard is dry
farmed. Stainless steel fermented, partial MLF.
Pale straw color and clear in the
glass. Luscious aroma of fresh peaches lemon peel, roasted almonds and the
air after a heavy rain. Crisp on the palate, with an intense peach flavor which
expands joyously in the mouth and clings to the finish forever. A bit of lemon, lime, grapefruit and vanilla flavors
add interest. Beautifully balanced with well-integrated acidity and a silken mouth feel. This is one sexy peach
of a wine.
2012 Golan Heights Winery Galilee Israel Moscato
7% alc., $14. Grapes grown in the volcanic
soils of the Golan Heights. Fermentation blocked early to produce an aromatic wine that is lively and
semi dry. Kosher for Passover.
Pale golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Highly aromatic with
vivid aromas of peach, mango and lychee. Vibrant and flavorful core of white peach with accents of
lychee and nuts. Soft and smooth on the palate with some, but not overbearing, sweetness. Ideal
chilled as an aperitif or an accompaniment to a peach dessert such as peach melba.
2012 Harper Voit Maresh Vineyard Old Vine Dundee Hills Riesling
12.2% alc., pH 2.95, TA 0.895, residual
sugar 1.3%, 75 cases, $25. From own-rooted, gnarled vines planted in 1979. No MLF.
Pale yellow color and
clear in the glass. Aromas of citrus, honeysuckle and petrol lead to flavors of grapefruit, Asian pear and lemon
with a citrus-infused, off-dry, and electric finish. A wine searching for food.
2012 Harper Voit Surlie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc
pH 3.10, 225 cases, $20. Sourced from Crannell Vineyard in the Eola-
Amity Hills and Meredith Mitchell Vineyard in McMinnville. Barrel
fermented in used French oak, no MLF, aged on lees for 9 months.
Very light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Highly aromatic
with effusive aromas of baked apple, Limoncello, pear, pastry cream
and a subtle yeasty note. Delicious and bright on the palate with an array of
layered flavors including apple, pear, and citrus, finishing with a green apple
note and palate cleansing acidity. This is the most interesting Pinot Blanc I have
ever had from Oregon, and a great shellfish wine.
2012 Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling
12.5% alc., pH 3.12, residual
sugar 0.41%, 798 cases, $27. Vines grown in red, rocky volcanic soil. 5.5 acres of 40-year-old, dryfarmed
Riesling planted along with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon adjacent encroaching forest
of Madrone - hence the name.
Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Delicate aromas of lemon
zest, green apple, peach and toast. Flavorful range of citrus fruits and peach with a note of iron-driven
minerality and bright acidity. Has the goods to age for many years.
NV Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution American White Wine
12.0% alc., residual sugar 1.2%, $15.
A blend of 9 white varietals including Pinot Gris, White Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Müller-
Thurgau, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Chardonnay. 17th edition. Fermented in 100%
stainless steel, fff dry.
A unique wine that offers no special varietal correctness. The aromas are
complex and include lemon, dried mango, honeysuckle, pastry cream and roasted almonds. On the
palate, the delicately flavored wine is bright and easy to like, with tastes of pineapple, pear eau de vie,
spice and citrus infused with bright, refreshing acidity and a very slight finishing sweetness. Very
versatile at the table, and can shine with Thai curry, Tandoori chicken, spicy tune rolls or baked sole with lemon
2012 Yalumba “Y” South Australia Viognier
14.5% alc., $9.49, screwcap. Imported by Negociants USA
Inc., Napa, CA. Yalumba has quite a reputation for Viognier, but this is their entry level offering. Yalumba is
Australia’s oldest family owned winery.
Light golden color and clear in the glass. Marked reduction upon
opening with strong burnt match aromas. Soft and pleasing on the palate with flavors of lemon curd, grilled
pineapple, and mango. Much better two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with no
reduction evident and more vivid tropical fruit flavors, although still somewhat dilute.