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Archaeological evidence suggests that grapevines have been grown and cultivated in what is today modern Austria for over four thousand years, making it one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world. Over the centuries, relatively little has changed in Austrian wine, with the dominant grape varietals continuing to be Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and others. Austria is renowned for producing excellent and characterful dry white wines, although in the eastern part of the country, many wineries specialist in sweeter white wines made in a similar style to those of neighboring Hungary. Today, Austria has over fifty thousand hectares under vine, split over four key wine regions. The domestic wine industry remains strong, with Austrians drinking their local produce outside in the summer, and people around the world are beginning to once more rediscover this fascinating and ancient wine culture.
Pinot Blanc is a popular white grape varietal most commonly associated with the beautiful French region of Alsace, but which is also grown across Central Europe and Italy. In Germany and Austria it is known as Weisseburgunder, in Italy it is called Pinot Bianco, and is one of the key varietals in the alpine regions of Alto Adige. Pinot Blanc is the main white grape varietal in Alsace, where it is prized for its ability to beautifully express the fine terroir on which it is grown, and it is used to produce exceptional single varietal wines, as well as blended wine such as Edelzwicker. Pinot Blanc is also a key component in this part of France’s signature sparkling wine, Cremant d’Alsace.
The wines made from Pinot Blanc are typically medium to light bodied, but they possess a remarkable freshness and clean character, which reminds us of the cool, green hillsides of their homeland. Apple, honey and biscuity, yeasty flavors are typical in fine Pinot Blanc wines, as well as a good level of minerality, making it a popular choice for those looking to pair a fine white wine with a wide range of foods. Although it is almost never oaked in Alsace, Italian vintners have a tendency to age Pinot Bianco in oak barrels, adding an extra dimension to this wonderful varietal.