Found in Translation: A Grape By Any Other Name (Monthly Wine Writing Challenge 32 #MWWC32)


The theme is “translation” for this, the thirty second Monthly Wine Writing Challenge.

Luckily, my Aunt surprised me recently.

She hosts near-monthly dinners, cooks great food, and pours copious amounts of sparkling wine.  I bring good bottles that survived my workweek.  Well, at our last powwow she had something new from Oregon.

Now, most American wine is an act of translation.  Why?  Because we try to conjugate European grapes with American soil, climate, and palates.  Results taste familiar but different: like speaking French with a Texan accent.  But with today’s wine, America forgot the encyclopedia.

My Aunt’s wine comes from Dundee, Oregon.  There, by 1975, 15 acres of red clay-loam and volcanic soil got planted with what they thought was Pinot Blanc.  Erm…nope!

The mistranslation dates back to 1939, when Georges de Latour first planted a white grape at Beaulieu Vineyards (BV) in California.  BV called it “Pinot Blanc”, “Melon”, and even “Chablis”.  Even David Lett, founding father of Oregon’s Eyrie Vineyards, fell into the Pinot Blanc trap.  It took until 1980 for French ampelographer Dr. Pierre…

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