Wine, uncorked: Pinot Bianco

Quercus Pinot Bianco, Slovenia

Every month, the fabulous Helena Nicklin, AKA the Wine Bird, uncorks a bottle of wine from our cellars and gives you a fuss-free low-down on what’s behind the label. 

What on earth does ‘Quercus Goriška Brda, Slovenija, Beli Pinot, Pinot Bianco’ mean?

The most meaningful words on this label are ‘Pinot Bianco’ (which is the grape) and the country ‘Slovenia’, as these two things give you the biggest hint towards the style of the wine in the bottle. The producer of this wine is ‘Vinska Klet’, though you can only see this in small letters on the back and they have a range of wines called ‘Quercus’ of which this is one. It was a clever decision to put this recognisable, easy name on the front! ‘Goriška Brda’ is the wine region; a stunning place with rolling hills and orchards, just by the Italian border. ‘Beli Pinot’ is simply ‘Pinot Bianco’ in Slovenian and 2015 is the year that the grapes that made this wine were harvested. This wine’s ‘vintage’ is 2015.

Slovenian wine? Seriously?

Actually yes. And drinking it makes you look like you’re in the know! It’s the whites that are best though and while some can still be pretty rubbish, the better ones are distinctive, often smoky and delicious. Slovenian winemakers are very good at varieties you may not have heard of such as Rebula, Pikolit, Verduc and Sauvignonasse, but they also use grapes that are now widely known such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and in this case, Pinot Bianco (aka Pinot Blanc).

So, what is Pinot Bianco like?

Inoffensive and easy-going, Pinot Bianco is one of those grapes that isn’t going to set the world on fire. Think of it like the perfect nanny for your children: warm, friendly and pretty enough, but not so glamorous and dynamic that she’ll steal your husband!  Characterised by a softness thanks to its lowish acidity and without hugely distinctive flavours, Pinot Bianco is usually understated, medium-bodied and ‘ripe’ rather than actually sweet. A good, concentrated version will be soft, with floral notes and flavours of ripe pear and citrus. Imagine basking in the sunshine of a pear orchard sipping lemonade…

What does this one taste like?

This Slovenian version is as described above but with a little more edge; think smoky flint rather than floral and grapefruit citrus rather than lemon.

Is Pinot Bianco the same as Pinot Blanc?

Yep. ‘Blanc’ is the French word for white, whereas ‘bianco’ is Italian. This grape is also known as Weissburgunder in Austria, ‘Weisser Burgunder’, ‘Clevner’, ‘Clävner’, ‘Weisser Ruländer’ and ‘Weisser Arbst’ in Germany, ‘Beli Pinot’, ‘Feherburgundi’ and ‘Rouci Bile’ in Eastern Europe. Its most famous synonyms however are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Bianco and Weissburgunder. WHO SAID WINE WAS COMPLICATED?!

FACT: Pinot Bianco is a mutation of Pinot Noir that resulted in white grapes.

What do you eat with Pinot Bianco?

Pinot Bianco is a pretty good all-rounder, but it’s a particularly good match for soft cheeses, risotto and meats and poultry in creamy sauces. It’s soft, almost sweetness also makes it a good choice for lightly spiced Asian dishes.