IWM has been assertively developing our selection of wines from outside of Italy. At first, we were just getting the word get out about out the incredible values in our Spanish wines, but in the last two years our French portfolio has been our evolving focus. We’re lucky to have one of the industry’s most knowledgeable French wine professionals, Justin Kowalski, a longtime friend of Sergio Esposito, IWM’s Founder. Justin has built our French portfolio from the ground up. With over twenty years of experience in French wine, his knowledge is encyclopedic, supplemented by an incredible passion and energy for the smallest and most exclusive producers—and thus he’s the man I have to thank for the wine I’m writing about today.
In celebration of our growing French wine portfolio, I took home a bottle of French Pinot Blanc that had caught my attention– Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc 2009. The wine had been in our cellar for a few weeks, but remained largely unnoticed. The majority of our French portfolio is Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), so my guess is this bottle had sadly gone overlooked for being Alsatian. Friday night I wrapped it up in my messenger bag and brought it home for the weekend.
This white wine features 70-percent Auxerrois and 30-percent Pinot Blanc, a mutation of Pinot Noir, Burgundy’s classic red grape, which takes on a grey colored skin once ripened. It lacks the general tannins of red fruit found in Pinot Noir, but it offers a healthy body and a minerality that’s almost like licking wet stone. Plus, it shows a touch of delayed harvest dehydration, or minor noble rot, found in many Alsatian or Germanic wines. The moderate acidity leaves a very natural mouth-feel in the mouth that doesn’t “ping”; rather it massages you cheeks. All of this minerality, acidity and classic Alsatian noble rot gets complemented by floral, smoky, and saline aromas and flavors. Fans of Verdicchio, Le Marche’s primary white grape, will find an interesting convergence in these two varietal wines, both in body and in finish. The Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc 2009 makes for an incredibly food-friendly choice with everything from cheese, to salads, to seafood, or even alone. This is the sort of wine to get you started for dinner, enjoy through dinner, and perhaps finish with a second bottle.