Must-Try Wine of Week: 2012 Harper Voit Surlie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc

Pinot blanc arose as an independent mutation of pinot noir. It’s farily widely planted worldwide, but has never received the attention accorded many other white varieties. It has garnered the most notoriety from examples grown in northern Italy and Alsace.

Pinot blanc’s flavor profile mimics chardonnay, but is lighter and less assertive. New World styles of pinot blanc range from a stainless steel fermented, bright, mineral-driven and timid wine, to a wine resembling a fat, creamy chardonnay. No one can say for sure exactly what a great New World pinot blanc should be, but the Harper Voit bottling, with its nuance, body, and flair, could be a quintessential example.

The Harper Voit Surlie Pinot Blanc, sourced from the Crannell Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills and Meredith Mitchell Vineyard in McMinnville, strikes a middle ground between these two extremes. It’s barrel fermented in used French oak barrels with no malolactic fermentation, and aged on lees (thus the name “Surlie”) for 9 months. Only 225 cases were produced.

The wine is highly aromatic, with effusive aromas of baked apple, Limoncello, pear, pastry cream, and a subtle yeast note from the lees. It’s bright on the palate, with an array of layered flavors including apple, pear, and citrus, finishing with a note of Granny Smith apple, and palate-cleansing acidity. This is the most interesting pinot blanc I have ever had from Oregon.

It can be a charming aperitif on its own, but its bright acidity and flavor profile scream for oysters, seared scallops, or crab cakes. It’s available for $17 to $18 in Orange County from,, and Harper Voit is one of the featured wineries at this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon, which I detailed in Thursday’s post, click here.

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