Domestic Selection: Pinot Blanc, 1988. Paraiso Springs

The Paraiso Springs label be­longs to Richard Smith. He does not own vineyards or a winery. In­stead he selects the best grapes he can find, orders them crushed ac­cording to his specifications, and then fermented under the direction of Ron Niino, an expatriate from San Martin. He also buys bulk wines that meet his blending needs. Sort of an “advanced nego­ciant” (Jerry Mead classifies him as a “Master Negociant”).

He seems to favor Monterey ap­pellation grapes. In fact he has concentrated on the grapes from 11 properties (300 acres) near the junction of the Arroyo Seco and Salinas rivers. He finds Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and Johannis­berg Riesling do well in this area. Having previously developed and farmed about 5000 acres in the Monterey Wine country since 1973, he knows what he is doing. His 1988 Pinot Blanc is testimony to his “non resident” wine entre­preneurship!

Pinot Blanc is not “white wine made from Pinot Noir grapes”! Please… do not make that mistake when you are offered a glass (yet according to Bern Ramey, in his ampelography, states that a possi­ble relationship through “genetic accident” might exist). The grape is considered a distinct variety, with important attributes; yet often neglected, and relegated to lesser levels. It is cultivated in France in the Burgundy region, admixed with Chardonnay, and solo in the Alsace region as a distinct varietal (quite different in style to our ver­sions). It also grows in Italy, Ger­many, and parts of South America. Oregon and Washington state have plantings. There seems to be a re­surgence of interest for this grape in California (prices for Chardonnay are skyrocketing, and with a similarity of style… it is a safe bet).

Our wine is light golden yellow in color. It has an engaging bouquet that shows it has responded well to the 12 months of bottle age. Fresh fruit aroma does break through with overtones of melon and apple. The taste is rich, with a medium to full body. A change of direction occurs in the middle, with a distinct dryness developing in the mouth. A burst of fruit fol­lows, with good acid balance. The finish is long and lingering with the fruit. A wonderful example of how good a Pinot Blanc can be.

Serve chilled with roast chicken or grilled swordfish.

 Cellaring Notes: Approaching its prime. Serve during 1990/91.

Reviewed by P.K.Sr.

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