Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco 2009
Founded in 1848, the Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof Winery owes its name to the ancient castle known today as the home of the Tiefenbrunner family. The winery is in the hamlet Entiklar, in the town of Kurtatsch, which is in the South Tyrolean province of Bozen amid the awe-inspiring Italian Alps. Tiefenbrunner produces over 20 types of quality wines, and each bottle receives the attentive care of expert winemaker and owner, Christof Tiefenbrunner. Many international awards testify to the quality that results from their generations of experience, with the flagship of Tiefenbrunner being the Müller-Thurgau “Feldmarschall.” Tiefenbrunner’s vineyards are located along the enchanting Südtyroler Weinstrasse, the Wine Route of South Tyrol, in one of the most beautiful wine-growing areas in Alto Adige. The vines are grown mainly on the mountain slopes around the Turmhof Castle, with other vines located in the flatter areas of the valley. The primarily southward-facing slopes and their loamy, chalk-rich soils represent the best environment for producing high-quality wines. The Mediterranean climate, characterized by moderate rainfall and cooling evening winds, allows for a substantial difference between day and night temperatures, providing ideal conditions for the perfect ripening of the grapes. Rich in extracts and potent in aroma, the grapes are turned into wines of unmistakable character.; at 3280 feet above sea level, it is the highest vineyard in Europe. The philosophy of the Tiefenbrunner family, in the vineyards and in the cellar, is to relentlessly improve the grape quality and to highlight the varietal character of each wine. This guiding principle is both a philosophy and the basis for the winery’s viticultural practice in harmony with nature, reflected in the cultivation and protection of the vines. When new vines are planted, the optimal combination of location and varietal is sought. The carefully selected vine stocks are no longer planted strictly in the traditional pergola system, but trained on wire frames regardless of the location. In the last few years, however, the traditional pergola system has been re-introduced to the steep rock slopes in a slightly altered form. The open pergola offers the vine an ideal balance between sun and shade, which contributes to the development of particularly good grape aroma.
Trentino, the southern half, is primarily Italian-speaking and largely responsible for the production of non-native, international grapes. There is a significant quantity of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Merlot produced. But Trentino's native and most unique red variety, Teroldego, while still rare, is gaining popularity. It produces a deeply colored red wine rich in wild blackberry, herb, coffee and cocoa.
The rugged terrain of German-speaking Alto Adige (also referred to as Südtirol) focuses on small-scale viticulture, with great value placed on local varieties—though international varieties have been widely planted since the 1800s. Sheltered by the Alps from harsh northerly winds, many of the best vineyards are at extreme altitude but on steep slopes to increase sunlight exposure.
The primary white grapes are Pinot grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot blanc, as well as smaller plantings of Sauvignon blanc, Müller Thurgau. 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.
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.