Gustave Lorentz Reserve Pinot Blanc 2013
Not only great on its own, but the Pinot Blanc Reserve is a great match for both hot and cold appetizers, especially mussels and cold seafood plates. It also is a perfect aperitif and the most versatile wine coming from the Alsace.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Lorentz family has been making wine since 1836 in the heart of the Alsace, which lies in the northeast corner of France, along the Rhine River. Charles Lorentz Sr., grandfather of the current president of Gustave Lorentz, developed his vineyards on the hills of Altenberg de Bergheim, in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, which has grown to 85 acres in this extraordinary terroir, with four acres planted on the hills of the Grand Cru Kanzlerberg and 30 acres in the Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim.
The current management, led by Georges Lorentz, is the sixth generation of the family firm, headquartered in the medieval village of Bergheim, in the Haut-Rhin. As far back as anyone can recall, the grapes harvested from this extraordinary terroir have been vinified separately. Thus, Riesling, Pinot-Gris, Gewurztraminer and other Muscat varieties from the Altenberg de Bergheim vineyards unerringly express their unique qualities in these wines year-to-year. The family is very proud that the wines are “gastronomic,” meaning fresh, clean, well-balanced and mostly dry – great matches for many of the cuisines from the more than 55 countries where the wines are sold. As they have down through the generations, the Lorentz family hues to tradition while also employing state-of-the-art vinification techniques and equipment. Gustave Lorentz was among the first producers in the Alsace to use stelvin (screw-cap) closures. In 2012 the Gustave Lorentz vineyards became certified organic by Ecocert.
With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticultural regions. This hotly contested stretch of land running north to south on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, it is one of the driest regions of France but enjoys a long and cool growing season. Autumn humidity facilitates the development of “noble rot” for the production of late-picked sweet wines, Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.
The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties, the only ones permitted within Alsace’s 51 Grands Crus vineyards, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris.
Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty. In its youth, Alsatian Riesling is dry, fresh and floral, but develops complex mineral and flint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat, vinified dry, tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal.
Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted in Alsace and mainly used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Most Alsatian wines are single-varietal bottlings and unlike other French regions, are also labeled with the variety name.
Approachable, aromatic and pleasantly plush on the palate, Pinot blanc is a white grape variety born out of a mutation of pink-skinned Pinot gris (which was born out of a mutation of Pinot noir) and is perhaps most associated with the Alsace region of France. The variety is also is quite successful in Germany and Austria, where it is known as Weissburgunder. Although its heritage is Burgundian, today it is rarely found there and instead thrives throughout central Europe, especially in the mountainous Alto Adige region of Italy, where it is called Pinot bianco. Fine examples can also be found in Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Oregon’s Willamette Valley boasts some wonderful examples of Pinot blanc, as do some cooler pockets of California.
In the Glass
Pinot Blanc is typically a full-bodied wine and expresses pleasing aromas of crisp pear, peach, lemon zest, crushed gravel and white flowers. The finest examples can possess a stony minerality and with age can develop intriguing notes of honey, vanilla and almond.
Delicate Pinot Blanc works well with lighter fare such as salads, seafood, chicken or turkey, but is truly at its best with Alsatian pairings like choucrout garnie, onion tarts or the region’s soft cheeses like Munster.
Pinot Blanc’s delicate aromatics, full body, and moderate acidity make it a great alternative to the world’s most popular white wine. Anyone experiencing Chardonnay fatigue and looking to try something new would benefit from giving Pinot blanc a try.