Pinot Blanc: The best cure for a heat wave

Pinot Blanc grapes cooling off.

I can usually tolerate pretty warm temperatures but when the thermometer reaches triple digits I surrender. I don’t feel like doing anything today except sitting on my couch with a refreshing beverage and some trashy TV. (Thank goodness plastic couch coverings are no longer in fashion. I grew up in Queens and you’d be surprised at the popularity of these things in the ’80s.) While I don’t have to go far to find trashy TV — it’s basically on every channel these days — my choice of beverage does take me to a land far away and probably much cooler right now, the Alsace region of France.

I know what you’re thinking. “How predictable, white wines from France? Been there, drank that.” But with its crisp, refreshing white wine varieties, this is the perfect region to explore more of this summer as the temperature outside soars. The wines of this region are very different from what you know, or think you might know about French whites.

This week I am tasting and enjoying a 2007 Gustave Lorentz Pinot Blanc. Planted along the hills above the Rhine River, the grapes from this region produce refreshing wines, most of which are white, dry & acidic. This Pinot Blanc evokes cool notes of apple and citrus, particularly lime. Hints of pear and floral notes add to its versatility, which make it an easy wine to drink with several cuisines, though the thought of anything too heavy right now is unimaginable as I don’t have the energy to even digest the gummy worms I just snacked on. Its minerality reflects the terroir of the region, specifically the clay and limestone laden soil. Also, it differs from other French regions because the wines are mostly aged in stainless steel, not oak, which contribute to their young, fresh taste. The wines from Alsace are distinct, as is the region which basically has both French and German influence as it falls between both countries. Even the bottles are unique, generally taller & skinnier, attributes we all wish we had more of.

This Pinot Blanc is well balanced on the palette and not too heavy on the mouth, but with a nice refreshing finish. I could probably sip my way through the bottle during a “Real Housewives” marathon tonight. If you’re worried about breaking the bank on a French wine, don’t fret, Alsace wines are surprisingly very affordable for what they offer. You can explore a variety of interesting wines from the region such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chasselas, Gewürztraminer and other varieties you may need a translator to pronounce. In the $25 and under range (Grand Cru wines will run you more) most of these wines are affordable enough for you to experiment a little bit and see what you like, and how they compare. Don’t worry, you’ll have enough left over to pay the overages in your Con Ed bill next month.


Check out www.chambersstwines.com for a nice selection of other wines from this region.


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