Pinot Bianco

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Pinot Bianco, common Italian name for the white pinot blanc grape of French origin and much, much more widely grown than the French original in France. Introduced there as Weissburgunder well before the mid 19th century when the region was under Austrian rule, it was once very popular in north eastern Italy. By 2000, however, it had been decisively overtaken by Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, and total plantings in 2010 were just 3,085 ha/7,620 acres.

It is grown particularly in trentino-alto adige, veneto, friuli, and lombardy although, as in Alsace but not in Germany or Austria, Pinot Grigio enjoys higher esteem here. Pinot Bianco is prized in Alto Adige, however, and has produced some of this region’s finest white wines. It was first noted in Italy in Piemonte in the early 19th century and until the mid 1980s the name Pinot Bianco was used to describe Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, or a blend of the two. Even today, there are vineyards in which both varieties grow side by side. Italians generally vinify Pinot Blanc as a high-acid, slightly spritzig, non-aromatic white for early consumption, and often coax generous yields from the vine. In Lombardia, the high acid and low aroma are particularly prized by the spumante industry. Good Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige from low-yielding vineyards, fermented and aged in oak barrels, indicate that Pinot Bianco could give much better results in Italy if it were treated with more respect.