Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Few Summer Whites

Like all y'all, I've been drinking whites for the season — and not a single sauvignon blanc is among them! Here are a few that I have had.

Fattoria La Torre Montecarlo 2006
Never heard of Montecarlo? Neither had I. Turns out this is Tuscany's smallest DOC and, according to the Oxford Companion, it's best known for its "international" plantings. This white wine is a blend of (mostly) Italian and (some) French varietals — 60% Trebbiano, 15% Vermentino, 10% Pinot Bianco, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Roussanne, to be exact — and the wine is Demeter-certified to boot. It also happens to be terrific. Aromas of dried herbs, nuts, and tropical fruits waft subtly from the glass. In the mouth it's round yet precise, with the body for grilled fish, the fruit and brown spice to match the accompanying peach salsa, and the herbaceous acidity to stand up to a green salad. It's also excellent with dry and salty cheese.

Meinklang Grüner Veltliner 2007
Here's another Demeter-certified wine, and at $13 it's a very good value. It definitely puts the "green" in grüner, thanks to its qualities of fresh herbs, cucumber, pea, and tart green apple. It needs just a bit of time to round out — it was most expressive at the end of night two, with some peach, cardamom, and cinnamon beginning to emerge. There are a few curves on its body, but the emphasis is still on its mineral and acid-driven spine.

Willakenzie Estate Pinot Blanc 2006
A bit of a mixed bag, this one. On the one hand, it has an endlessly fascinating nose of fruit blossoms, peach, apple, pinto beans, and stone. The acidity has vavoom and the mouthfeel is full and creamy, and the finish is long and peppery. On the other hand, the finish is also slightly and off-puttingly metallic, and a bit of heat lingers.

Sylvain Langoureau Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly 2006
White Burgundy a summer wine? You must think I'm foolish to say so, and yet its weight and grace are appropriate for the season. I served this with grilled fish, with which it went very well. This receives an artful touch of barrel toast — it's subtly smoky and nutty — but this does not interfere with the generous pear and apple aromas. The pure minerality keeps on humming on the finish and it's nicely balanced with the fruit and the cinnamon-inflected spice. While this particular south-facing vineyard is just a grape toss away from Chevalier-Montrachet, Saint-Aubin is in the mind's eye tucked into the back folds of Burgundy and its reputation, to the extent it has one, is as a place to look for good values. With this experience, now I see why.

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