In the last year, Pinot Blanc has consistently been impressing me with its clean lines and focused attention. You might be thinking WTF are “clean lines”? When the flavours in a wine are clearly identifiable and there are no parts that smell or taste muddled, then I describe them as having good clarity, or clean lines! The same thing can happen with food, if you consider a consommé that just bursts with a single flavour or two, great wines should have that focus and ability to layer those flavours so each sniff or taste presents something slightly different and identifiable.
Lack of oak is another reason I think Pinot Blanc is consistently garnering more accolades. Most winemakers are keeping its process simple and cold. By processing and fermenting this grape cold and slow you are able to retain many of its pure fruit flavours. If you must play with oak, the wines I appreciate are the ones that use it sparingly and with caution. They are using barrels that have had white wine in them for a 2-3 years and only using the barrel for a few months, perhaps with lees, to coax out some texture and weight to the mid palate to balance the natural bright acidity.
Nk’Mip’s Pinot Blanc has been solid for years but the 2010 has an incredible balance of flavours, weight, acidity, and length. The perfect summer sipper that plays well with lighter seafood dishes, salads, and milder cheeses. This wine can easily get beat up with big flavours, spices and sugars. There were only about 100 cases left at the winery but have a look around, you should still find it on retail shelves till early summer.