On our estate vineyards, we farm three vines in the Pinot family: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and the more unusual Pinot Blanc. These varietals are so closely related that occasionally a winegrower will discover two types on the same vine.
How does this happen? Pinot Gris is a natural mutation of Pinot Noir that lacks pigment in one of its two outer layers. And then there’s Pinot Blanc, which is missing the skin pigment from both layers. This is how the three Pinot grapes can look so different while sharing almost 100% of their DNA.
So are they the same wine? Absolutely not. Skin pigment plays a huge role in Pinot Noir, adding color, complexity and tannin. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are both made as white wines, but Pinot Blanc takes on mineral components in a unique way, making it a popular varietal in Alsatian sparkling wines. Blanc is often compared with Chardonnay, with an acid profile that can vary considerably, from “flabby” to “zippy”. Blanc is known for citrus, melon, apricot, and pear flavors sometimes with almost smoky undertones.
Not many wineries grow Pinot Blanc, but it is one of our favorite varietals to make and we hope you enjoy it too. Cheers!