Pinot Blanc is one of California’s least publicized grape varietals, even though it it’s nearly always a real crowd pleaser. And after tasting Donati’s 2010 Paicines Pinot Blanc, we beg the question once again: Why don’t more California wineries produce Pinot Blanc? Donati’s Paicines Pinot Blanc is simply delicious. It sports great eye appeal, bright pure fruit flavors, high natural acidity, and a gorgeous spice box finish. In between, one encounters a cornucopia of scents and savors that reflect the warm days and cool nights of the Paicines appellation as well as subtle, complex flavors that go missing in far too many California Chardonnays. In short, superb balance, pure flavors, and a clean, exuberant finish make Donati’s Pinot Blanc a true crowd pleaser. Initially, we suggest serving this wine well chilled. Then allow it to evolve slowly in the glass. You may enjoy it even more as it reaches toward ambient temperature (50°-55° F), but as you like it.
Like most well made Pinot Blancs, the 2010 Donati Family Vineyard Pinot Blanc seems to share an affinity for Asian cuisine as well as spicy, often hard to pair foods. Some of our favorite pairings with Donati’s easy to drink Pinot Blanc are spicy Thai chicken with basil, Vietnamese noodles, fresh spring rolls filled with plenty of fennel and shrimp, and a mélange of organic greens tossed in a Champagne vinaigrette and topped with caramelized walnuts, poached pears, tomatoes, and crushed blue cheese. Mildly spiced Indian curries, marinated pork tenderloins served with fruit chutneys, and crispy fish dishes provide other outstanding accompaniments. Soft and semi-hard cheeses also make good companions to Donati’s 2010 Pinot Blanc, as they accentuate the wine’s winsome personality. Moreover, the Donati Pinot Blanc doubles as a refreshing aperitif that won’t wear on the palate, so no need to worry if you forgot to make a trip to the grocery store. You will likely enjoy this splendid Pinot Blanc equally well all by itself.
If one were to survey American wine drinkers as to which appellations (or more precisely which American Viticultural Areas - AVA) are foremost in their minds, Napa and Sonoma would certainly top the list. However, California remains a treasure trove of family vineyards and wineries from a plethora of less recognizable place names with no lack of quality wines to offer. One such distinguished family venture is Donati Family Vineyard, located in Paicines, California. Begun in 1998 by Ron Donati with the notion of growing grapes with his son Matt, Donati Family Vineyard has moved quickly from growing superior quality grapes to making award winning wines. The Donati Family Estate Vineyard site enjoys a variety of soils from limestone to decomposed granite to clay loam, and access to the cooling ocean breezes of the Monterey Bay. Like much of southern Napa, Sonoma, and Monterey counties, Paicines has long warm days followed by cool nights. The vineyard is planted to various select clones of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Petit Verdot. Vine selections are carefully screened for viral diseases prior to planting, ensuring that the future of the vineyard is secure, and that vine health and fruit integrity remain intact from planting through harvest. Matt Donati believes in hands-on year-round vineyard management to create an environment where the grapes themselves can be left alone to thrive during ripening. Regular, judicious thinning of shoots during the growing season, attention to every detail of vine canopy training and light management within the fruiting zone, pre and post-veraison green fruit removal, along with scientific analysis of soil and leaf moisture throughout the growing season ensures that every aspect of the Donati Estate viticultural program contributes to the success of the vintage. Primary efforts are directed at sustainable farming, allowing for natural predators and reduced use of pesticides to provide a clean, hospitable environment for vine growth and fruit maturation. Of course, this path of action requires extreme diligence in scouting for possible problems. But, with active personnel regularly hand-tending each and every vine, the family is gradually learning that effective and efficient sustainable practices can indeed make a significant difference in both the local environment and in the ultimate grape and wine quality.
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