Mon 9 Jun 2008
Last week we had our first temperatures in the 90s, and the weather forecast predicts the same for the coming week — today the high is supposed to be 96 with humidity a zillion percent — bringing to mind the necessity for refreshing and delightful and perhaps rather serious or seriously good white wines. With one exception, the prices of these six examples tend to be seriously inexpensive or at least more than fair. Three are from France, and one each from Washington, Oregon and California.
*For quality/price ratio, I was knocked out by the sleek and refreshing Domaine du Tariquet Sauvignon 2007, made by the Famille Grassa in Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne. The bouquet teems with notes of celery and dill, thyme and lime and grapefruit. The wine, laced with lemon, lime and orange zest flavors with hints of dried herbs, is amazingly crisp and lively, with a touch of spritz and echoes of chalk and limestone. Imported by Robert Kacher, Washington D.C. Very good+. About $10 and a freakin’ bargain. Drink through the end of 2008.
*Here’s another knock-out and a fabulous value. The Domaine des Vercheres Macon-Villages 2006 displays tremendous weight and presence for its station in life. The wine is clean and minerally, with a dense. almost powdery texture and flavors that are like an infusion of roasted lemon and lemon balm permeated by tangerine and hints of candied orange rind. Acid is buoyantly lively, and layers of limestone and shale kick up their heels. A wafting of honeysuckle slips through on the finish. Excellent and clearly a superior model of the type. Imported by Martin Scott Wines, Lake Success, N.Y. About $13.
Blithe and winsome, the Anne Amie Cuvee A Amrita 2006, from Oregon, is a blend of muller-thurgau grapes (35%), pinot gris (33%), riesling (13%), chardonnay (10%), viognier (6%) and melon de bourgogne, the grape that makes Muscadet (3%). The wine features a bouquet of lemon, lime peel and orange zest with hints of almond and almond blossom. In the mouth, there’s a tide of spiced peach and roasted pear, yet while those qualities sound opulent, the wine’s texture is crisp, spare, almost lean, yet pleasingly silky. A charming and individual quaff. Very good+ About $15.
*Ron Bunnell, former red wine maker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, released wines from his own property in Washington’s Yakima Valley in 2007. The Bunnell Family Wines are dedicated to strikingly authentic versions of Rhone style wines, some of which I will mention in a post coming up soon; the River Aerie label offers less expensive wines that include flavorful whites made in stainless steel and red blends. The River Aerie Gewurztraminer 2006 delivers precise notes of peach, pear and lichee with undercurrents of jasmine, orange zest and the grape’s characteristic element of rubber eraser. The wine is very lively, very spicy, scintillating with crisp acid and damp pebbles, all leading to a shiveringly dry finish with touches of elegance and austerity. Drink through 2009 or ’10. Excellent. About $18.
*Well, I feel guilty recommending the Hendry Ranch Albarino 2007, Napa Valley, so highly because only 110 cases were made, so mark it definitely worth a search. This is a lovely, indeed stunning rendition of the Spanish white grape. It shamelessly overflows with jasmine and honeysuckle, roasted lemon and lemon balm, lime and orange peel. Made in bone-dry style, all in stainless steel with no malolactic process, the wine is, of course, notably crisp and vibrant, with stirring minerality, and yet the texture balances that crispness with lovely, lush denseness and weight; it’s a consummate example of the ineffable married to the substantial. Drink through 2009. Excellent. About $19.
*Vintage 2005 was superb in the Loire Valley, part of the trend for that year, actually, in most of Europe. A product of that felicity is the Fournier Pere et Fils Les Belles Vignes Sancerre 2005, made completely from sauvignon blanc grapes. Lordy, this is as fresh as new mown grass and hay laced with thyme and tarragon and borne upon strata of flint and limestone. It’s wonderfully fresh, bright and vivid, bursting with notes of lemon, lime and tangerine, and yet it’s tremendously earthy, almost mossy, with impressive body and weight while retaining cleanly, sharply etched acid for liveliness and vibrancy. Drink through 2010 or ’11 (well-stored). Imported by Martin Scott Wines, Lake Success, N.Y. Excellent. List price is about $26, but I paid $19.