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Palmer Pinot Blanc Estate 1998
Greatly appreciated, along with the other accolades the winery has received in the past decade, the praise reflects the efforts of the Palmer team as it strives to uphold Bob Palmer's pledge of quality. "I've got to be careful," Palmer says, "my name is on every bottle." Each staff member contributes a unique factor much the same as a winemaker selects the best of various lots to craft a special blend.
Because of his long experience in the region, Tom Drozd has become one of the East Ends most knowledgeable winemakers. His grasp of the various components of soil and climate enable him to take advantage of the best of each harvest. The result? Classically structured vinifera wines.
Bob Palmer's marketing efforts have made Palmer the most visible and best known Long Island producer. With his experience in New York's fast track advertising business to guide him, he spends almost six months out of each year on the road selling Palmer.
Looking back on sales experiences which, have taken him as far as the United Kingdom, He notes, "I've seen a dramatic change in the reception we have received since we started our trips in 1987. Today, even if people haven't tasted our wines, they know the name and are eager to try them." Palmer credits an active public relations campaign to this high recognition factor as well as favorable reviews by leading writers in the international wine press.
An often-overlooked wine-producing state that has recently begun to garner widespread attention, New York trails significantly behind California and Washington in volume produced but is ahead of Oregon. The vast majority of its produce is dedicated to large-scale production of wines made from Vitis labrusca and French-American hybrid varieties, like the common table grape Concord. The quality of New York’s best wines, however, should not be underestimated. Divided into six AVAs—the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, Hudson River, Long Island, Champlain Valley of New York, and Niagara Escarpment, which crosses over the borders into Michigan as well as Ontario, Canada—the state experiences varied climates, but in general summers are warm and humid while winters are cold and can carry the risk of frost well into the growing season.
The Finger Lakes region has long been responsible for some of the country’s finest Riesling, and is gaining traction with elegant, light-bodied Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Experimentation with cold-hardy European varieties is common, and recent years have seen the successful planting of grapes like Grüner Veltliner and Saperavi. Long Island, on the other hand, has a more maritime climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, and shares some viticultural characteristics with Bordeaux. Accordingly, the best wines here are made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Niagara Escarpment is responsible for excellent ice wines, usually made from hybrid variety Vidal.
Lightly aromatic, pleasantly soft, and always approachable, Pinot Blanc is best known in Alsace, where it is considered a workhorse variety that takes a backseat to the more complex Pinot Gris. A white mutation of Pinot Noir, it produces easy-drinking, enjoyable wines here. In Italy, as Pinot Bianco, it gets a little more complex, especially in the mountainous Alto Adige region. It is perhaps most successful as Weissburgunder in Germany and Austria, where the wines are subtle, delicate, surprisingly complex, and age-worthy. There is also some Pinot Blanc performing well in Oregon and cooler pockets of California.
In the Glass
Typically, Pinot Blanc has a relatively full body and expresses simple but pleasing aromas of crisp green apple, pear, citrus, and white flowers. The finest examples possess stony minerality and occasionally ripe stone fruit flavors, 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 Hollandaise dishes, onion tarts, or the region’s notable soft cheeses such as Muenster.
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.