“My father thought that it was a horrible idea,” says Lisa Howard. She is a second-generation winemaker in California’s Suisun Valley at Tolenas Winery. In 2017, they were harvesting grapes in the middle of an eclipse. Her father reluctantly sold her a ton of grapes. Five years later, “we are picking 12 tons of grapes for this project.”
The Eclipse, Howard’s white Pinot Noir, takes advantage of the simple fact that most red grapes, including Pinot Noir, have only a skin color. The producers can achieve the acidity of white wine and paint by pressing the pulp to release the straw-colored juice. However, they still get the velvety mouthfeel that red wines have. Howard says, “I had no idea anyone made white Pinot.” There was something in me that told me it had to be made.
The Eclipse is part of the global trend towards dry, still Blanc de Noirs wines. The producers make them for a variety of reasons, including to mitigate the effects caused by climate change. Red bottlings are made from fruit that producers don’t like. They offer alternatives to rose. They’re also creating SKUs for consumers that are appealing. While a “white” wine made from red grapes used to be associated with something pink and sentimental, like the White Zinfandel of the 1980s, today’s producers are more likely to refer back to the base wine of Champagne.
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Randy Schock is the winemaker of Handley Cellars, located in California’s Anderson Valley. People said, “Oh, isn’t that strange? Well, no. What’s [our] Brut? “I just didn’t add bubbles.” Still, blanc de noirs have been gaining popularity in the U.K. and other countries. Producers offer advice to those who want to try the style.
The Rise of Still Blanc de Noirs
Since the beginning of Blanc de noirs champagne, white wine is still made from red grapes. It was rare to forego secondary fermentation until recently. Fattoria Mancini was an early proponent of Fattoria and began bottling Imperio Blanc de Pinot Noir, its flagship wine, in 1998. Tony Rynders was the winemaker for Domaine Serene in Oregon at the time. He first encountered it in 2004. “A light went on in my mind,” he recalls. It seemed logical to show a different side to the grape and to open doors for an investigation others hadn’t tried.
Rynders has become an unofficial ambassador of white Pinot Noir. He makes it for his own Tendril Wine Cellars and Maggy Hawk in the Anderson Valley. Sarah Wuethrich, the current Maggy Hawk winemaker, says that white Pinot Noir offers something new to consumers. It’s also a good option to make wine if a disaster year occurs, especially with the increased fire threat.
In Oregon, wildfires in 2020 made what was once experimental essential. Shardul Ghogale is the director of sales at Left Coast Estate. The company bottles three different expressions of this wine. We did not make red Pinot Noir that year. We were able to reduce the smoke taint by removing the skins.
Other Oregon counties followed suit. Erin Percheron of Andante Vineyard, who is planning to increase white Pinot production this year, says that “consumer demand now compels winemakers” to produce more.
The style was a boon for Remy Drabkin, who is the owner and winemaker of Remy wines in Oregon. Her new press had broken. “I wanted to make sparkling wine, but the Pinot had to wait until we fixed the press. The white Pinot Noir I made with more ripened vines was a great fundraising tool for Wine Country Pride. There areThere’s a lot of presumptions about us based on our physical makeup, and we sometimes don’t get the chance to show off all that is beautiful in ourselves. White Pinot takes a grape that people think is one thing and turns it into something completely different. It’s thematic. She calls her wine Transformation.
Eclipse, the white Pinot Noir from Tolenas Winery, which was originally an outrageous idea, has become a huge success. Heather Carollo photography is the photographer of this photo.
Bodega Trivento in Argentina used its flagship Malbec grapes to launch a new white wine for the Fund for Students. Then, the style took off. Maximiliano Oriz, winemaker, says that after four years, the class has taken off.
Trivento and Bodega Argento imported white Malbec into the U.S. this year. We can devote grapes to this innovation. Argento currently produces 12,000 cases. It’s all part of our commitment to offering consumers new and exciting products.