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St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling QbA 2011
In our endeavours we give highest priority to maintaining the egological balance of our vineyards, in the belief that as winemakers we must recognize and respect the fragile unity of viticulture and nature.
St. Urbans-Hof employs traditional methods of wine growing and winemaking which have been used in the Mosel and Saar Valleys for centuries, some of which date back to the Romans. For example, the vines are grown on the traditional single-post 'Heart-binding' trellis system, whereby the canes are tied in the shape of a heart.
Also, organic fertilizers are utilized in order to maintain the natural balance of the soil. Most importantly, yields are kept at low levels in order to achieve intense and well-structured wines. For optimal flavour development, leaves are thinned and grapes are harvested as late as possible to allow for maximum ripening. All grapes are hand picked and carried from the vineyard in traditional shoulder-mounted containers called 'hotten' to ensure optimal fruit quality.
Just as important as the great length taken to deliver the best possible fruit from the vineyard is the careful attention given to the proper traetment of the grapes by cellarmaster Rudolf Hoffmann. The grapes are lightly crushed, after which they remain on the skins for a short period to ensure the complete release of aromas into the juice.
After this, the pulp of skins and juice is gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks at cool cellar temperatures to fully capture the aromas, flavours and delicate natural spritz of the Riesling grape. The wines are then transferred into traditional 1000 litre 'Fuder' barrels for several months to harmonize, after which they are lightly filtered and bottled.
A mountainous northern Italian region heavily influenced by German culture, Trentino-Alto Adige is actually made up of two separate but similar regions: Alto Adige and Trentino. Trentino, the southern half, is primarily Italian-speaking and largely responsible for the production of large volumes of wine made from non-native grapes. There is a significant quantity of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio produced here, and Merlot is common as well.
The rugged terrain of German-speaking Alto Adige (also referred to as Südtirol) is more focused on smaller-scale viticulture, and greater value is placed on local varieties, though international varieties are widely planted as well. Sheltered by the Alps from harsh northerly winds, many of the best vineyards are planted at extreme altitude on steep slopes to increase sunlight exposure. Dominant red varieties include the bold, herbaceous Lagrein and delicate, strawberry-kissed Schiava, in addition to some Pinot Nero. The primary white grapes are Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc, as well as smaller plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Müller Thurgau, and others. These tend to be bright and refreshing with crisp acidity and just the right amount of texture. Some of the highest quality Pinot Grigio in Italy is made here.
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.