Pinot Blanc is the second wine I have tasted from Stopham Vineyard in Sussex, another brave and interesting decision by the winemaker to grown a vine away from the mainstream of Bacchus and Chardonnay. The first was their excellent Pinot Gris, which I wrote about here, and definitely NOT to be confused with today’s wine. I won’t write much more about Stopham here except to say that they have fast become one of my favourite English vineyards, you can really sense their passion for sustainability and quality in their wines.
I have previously only tasted Pinot Blanc in the Alsace region of France and I find it rather difficult to describe but I would use general words like “neutral, nondescript, unassuming, inoffensive, middling”. My best example of it was as a “warm up” wine before a tasting of some wonderful Grand Cru Gewürztraminer at Domaine Weinbach in Alsace. I think it would be unfair to call it a palate cleanser before the main course, but I know that’s what the young woman in charge of our tasting was doing. Nothing wrong with that. To support my view here are two statements from Jancis Robinson and Wine Searcher:
“Useful rather than exciting’ would be a fair description of this versatile grape variety” (Jancis Robinson)
“Pinot Blanc is a versatile white-wine grape variety that is used in the production of still, sparkling and sweet dessert wines. Although not the most glamorous member of the Pinot family, the variety has proven its worth in various European wine regions, including Alsace in northeast France, the Alto Adige region of Italy, and in parts of Germany and Austria.” (Wine Searcher)
Stopham Notes: “Our Pinot Blanc has a creamy nose with a faint but classic Pinot Blanc nuttiness. Ripe pears and honeydew-melon roundness but with piercing lime-streaked acidity. Delicious green-cardamom and fennel-seed spiciness.”
Personal Notes: “We tasted this wine, amongst others over Christmas, and just after my daughter had given me a rather unusual present of a decanter made in stainless steel and glass. Wine can be stored in it by expelling the air by lowering a plunger to the level of the wine. A lovely present, though regarding the Stopham Pinot Blanc I’m reserving final judgement on it, I found little taste at all, I had a cold at the time and shouldn’t really have opened it but I needed cheering up! Oz Clarke reckons this to be a stunning wine. I see it as being “inoffensive” and without much character, probably enjoyable on a warm summers evening. Maybe Oz tasted a more mature vintage, but I find the Pinot Gris as much more characterful. On general reflection however I would class it as an “everyday wine” good value as such at £15, and so give it three stars on my five star scale.”
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