Crisp, chilled pinot blancs give a sense of warmer weather

I don’t care that it is cold. Really, we live in South Dakota. What do we expect? Just throw on an extra layer or two, take the time to turn your car on a few minutes early to warm up and get over it, right?

Wrong! I’m sick and tired of this bone-chilling cold that just seems to hang here if only just to aggravate the citizens of South Dakota and make us cranky.

Because weather reports indicate that we might possibly be in positive double digits in the next few days, I’m taking out a couple of bottles of my favorite whites, and temperature be damned, I’m having a chilled glass of vino. It will be my own summer in a bottle to consume during this upcoming veritable heat wave.

I wasn’t in the mood for chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, and pinot grigio just didn’t seem to fit the bill, either, so i grabbed a couple of bottles of pinot blanc. Pinot blanc is an interesting grape varietal that is a genetic mutation of the red grape pinot noir. It is predominantly grown in Alsace, France, home of the world-renowned Maison Trimbach.

Maison Trimbach has been around for almost 400 years with its origins dating back to 1626. It is still family owned with the 13th generation of Trimbachs at the helm. They produce riesling, pinot blanc, pinot noir, gewurztraminer and sylvaner. The Maison Trimbach rieslings are some of the most sought after rieslings in the world, but I digress.

Known as the “Trimbach style,” their pinot blanc sucks flavor from the heavy limestone in the soil, giving this wine a delicate minerality. You can actually taste the limestone in this wine. While this wine is full-bodied like chardonnay, it has a very clean and crisp flavor that make it pair wonderfully with any light meal such as chicken or seafood.

This dry pinot blanc banishes the doldrums and gives a hint of what warmer weather will bring. Its aromas remind me of flowers and sunshine and almost made me brave the climate to attempt to grill. Actually I did attempt it, but did you know that gas grills do not like to keep a constant temperature when it is 15 degrees below zero? Stomping and swearing at the equipment doesn’t help either.

Here is a pinot blanc fun fact: In Alsace, pinot blanc can actually be blended with pinot noir vinified white. This means that pinot noir grapes can be used in the blend, but the skins are removed so only the pulp of the grape is used. Since wine gets it color from skin, the addition of pinot noir adds no color to the wine.

Another wonderful pinot blanc is from the Black Family Estate in Oregon. This wine has its own origins in Alsace. In 1995, the vineyard was planted using clones of pinot blanc and pinot gris from Alsace, and in 2003, The Four Graces Winery was founded. The winery is named in honor of the Black’s four daughters Alexis, Juliana, Vanessa and Christiana.

This elegant pinot blanc thrives in Willamette Valley. The Four Graces is fermented in stainless steel to bring out the natural flavors of the grape without any oak interference. While still a dry white, there are flavors of pear and lychee with sweet floral aromas that invigorate your senses. The crispness of the wine gives it a beautiful and refreshing texture.

The vines were not the only transplants from France. The wines produced at Four Graces, including pinot blanc, pinot noir and pinot gris, are crafted under the guidance of French-born Laurent Montalieu, one of Oregon’s most respected winemakers.

Celebrate above zero temperatures with a little pinot blanc in your glass. Trust me, it will remind you of warmer weather ahead and remind us that it can only get better. Cheers!