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Pinot Grigio's little sister Pinot Blanc

They call it weissburgunder, pinot bianco, clevner, beli pinot, and weisser klevner, but most of us know it as pinot blanc. Pinot blanc is a clone of pinot noir. When the notoriously fussy pinot noir vine is unhappy its grapes will change. Under these conditions a pinot noir vine has been known to grow white grapes, in the same cluster as its red. To add to the disappointment, these mutant grapes are usually not wine worthy either. But a few of pinot noir's rogue children have turned out to be pretty good quality.

Imagine the relief and delight pinot blanc incited the first time it showed up on a vine. Not only was it wine worthy, but it made elegant, crisp, intensely flavored wines. Like pinot gris (pinot grigio), pinot blanc evolved into its own niche from pinot noir origins.

Pinot blanc can be found in every wine growing region of the world. Pinot blanc is high in acidity and can possess notes of melon, apple, citrus, peaches, and exotic flowers. Because it prefers cooler weather, Alsace, Austria, Germany, Northern Italy, and Oregon produce some beautiful examples of pinot blanc. Although Austria has been making wine since Roman times, it is just recently joining the global market with its exciting array of white wines. Austria's climate is perfect for producing elegant, classic whites. Since it is slightly warmer than Germany, Austrian grapes develop ample sugar, which allows their wines to be fermented completely dry. Many producers think pinot blanc will be one of the grape varieties instrumental in bringing Austrian wines into the lime-light.

Because of its ample acidity, some producers in Germany, Austria, and North America allow pinot blanc to develop into a remarkable dessert wine. It is slightly obscure, but if you're a pinot grigio drinker, pinot blanc it is worth exploring.

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