In the vineyard, Pinot Blanc bears a strong resemblance to Chardonnay. In fact, its leaf structure, clusters and berries so resemble those of Chardonnay that there are many vineyards in Europe where plantings of the two grapes are intermingled.
Here on Long Island, you’ll find Pinot Blanc is grown in a few vineyards, but at Lieb Cellars, it’s an important, indispensable part of their portfolio. In a field on Oregon Road in Cutchogue, you’ll find 13 acres of what — rumor has it — was once thought to be Chardonnay vines, just like those vineyards in Europe. Genetic technology has proven that these vines, which were planted in 1983, are Pinot Blanc vines that originated in Alsace.
Sometimes Pinot Blanc can be a little neutral — even boring. This Wine of the Week, Lieb Cellars 2016 Pinot Blanc ($22) is far from it. It doesn’t see a splinter of oak during the winemaking process and there is a floral edge to a nose that is dominated by fresh, clean aromas of melons, pears and yellow apples.
Though on the lighter end of the body spectrum (it’s less than 12 percent abv) the palate shows more of the same fruits — apple, pear and melon — with a subtle hint of lemon zest. Bright, appetite-whetting acidity is well incorporated, providing verve without being too sharp. There is a gritty pear quality to the finish that turns a bit saline at the very end.
An ideal foil for local shellfish or myriad white meat preparations, this wine is available for $22 at the winery’s Oregon Road tasting room.