Francesco Averoldi is a fourth-generation winemaker at his family winery in Northern Italy, near Lake Garda. The winery is very small by today's standards in that they only produce a total of 6,000 to 7,000 cases per year.
Averoldi is a showplace for old school winemaking. The vines are hand-tended, and the grapes are hand-picked, hand-sorted and crushed in the gentlest of ways to preserve the delicate flavors of the Pinot Bianco (a.k.a. Pinot Blanc) grape. Only 500 cases of this lovely offering exist.
The vines are 650 feet above Lake Garda in what was once an ancient sea bed. The decomposed sea matter coupled with the stony soil combine to provide perfect growing conditions.
Pinot Bianco is so highly thought of that it was once allowed in Burgundy to blend with Chardonnay. It tends to be a little finicky and, thus, has not been as widely produced, as Chardonnay is an easier grape to deal with.
But the stalwarts, like Averoldi, consider it a prize. This area is known for its high-quality Pinot Bianco like no other.
One can smell the similarity to Chardonnay with the gracious pineapple and pear nose. But on the palate, it adds a touch of banana and a minerality that separates it from Chardonnay completely. The result is a lovely, lilting swirl of tropical flavors that are penetrating, yet not pervasive. This is Pinot Bianco at its best.