Sun 21 Dec 2008
Not chardonnay or sauvignon blanc because I’m saving those grape for their own posts coming up soon (or fairly soon). So we have a variety of white grapes here and a range of prices from about $8 to $20. Not all these wines are great; some are simply enjoyable and quaffable. Cheap enough, and no harm done. You pays yer money and you makes yer choice.
Now we’re not talking greatness with the Forest Glen Riesling 2007, California, but for a cheap riesling, this is certainly decent and pleasant. The wine offers a slightly floral bouquet, tasty peach and pear flavors, moderately crisp acidity, and a nice texture. It’s a bit sweet at the beginning but finishes dry. Not terrifically focused. but enjoyable. Good+. About $8.
A few rungs up the ladder is the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Riesling 2006, California. The nose delivers pretty scents of apricot and peach with a slightly astringent floral note and a high tone of roasted pear and lychee. The wine is not as detailed in the mouth, but vibrant acidity keeps it lively, peach and apricot flavors are round and tasty, and the dry finish fairly scintillates with limestone and a hint of bitterness. Very Good. About $10.
The blend in the Villa Antinori 2007, Toscana IGT, is — imprecisely — 70 percent trebbiano and malvasia, 30 percent chardonnay, pinot bianco and pinot grigio. Made completely in stainless steel, the wine is smoky and steely, offering subtle notes of almond and almond blossom, lime and limestone, roasted lemon and pear. Citrus and pear elements dominate the flavors, which are animated by snappy acid and a mineral aspect that increases as the minutes pass. A delightful wine, with plenty of personality for the price. Very Good. About $12.
Imported by Ste. Michelle Wines, Woodinville, Wa.
The Henry’s Drive Pillar Box wines are consistently pleasing values. The grapes in the Henry’s Drive Pillar Box White 2007, South Australia, are 56 percent chardonnay, 30 percent sauvignon blanc and 14 percent verdelho; it’s interesting to see a Portuguese grape in Australia, where verdelho has a cult following. The result, anyway, is a poised and harmonious wine, bursting with lemons and citrus scents and flavors, hints of almond and jasmine, and great swaths of earthy limestone. The wine is quite spicy, almost startlingly so — like gooseberry and baking spice — yet the texture is dry and spare, and the finish brings in a bracing tone of grapefruit bitterness. Very Good. About $12.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa, Ca.
Torrontés has become the signature white grape of Argentina, and the Bodegas Tamari Reserva Torrontés 2008, from La Rioja region, is one of the best. It’s such a pretty wine, all wreathed with jasmine and honeysuckle, peach, pear and yellow plum, with a whiff of lychee at the end. In the mouth, flavors are consistent, with stone fruit and pear wrapped in a lovely texture that’s crisp and taut with acid yet lush enough that it feels like powdered silk, all of this supported by limestone and shale that provide a sense of depth and foundation. A superior rendition of the grape. Very Good+. About $14.
Imported by Terlato Wines International, Napa, Ca.
The Shady Lane Cellars Dry Riesling 2007, Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan, is dry indeed, a delicate and charming riesling with peach and pear scents and flavors opening to a high tone of lightly spiced fig and the grape’s requisite touch of petrol or rubber eraser. The spicy elements expand as the minutes pass, while the finish chimes with notes of grapefruit and limestone. Worth seeking out. Very Good+. About $16.50.
On the other hand, the Shady Lane Cellars Semi-Dry Riesling 2007, Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan, is a simpler wine than its Dry Riesling stablemate, which delivers far more character. Good+ About $16.50.
Albariño seems destined to be the white grape from Spain and Portugal that Americans most adore, or at least can pronounce. (The viura grape, however, sounds like the name of an automobile from the Czech Republic.)(Or a butter substitute.)(Or an anxiety med.) Anyway, the Adegas D’Altamira Albariño Brandal 2007, Rias Baixas, is a seductive rendition of the grape. The wine is rich and spicy, yet spare and elegant, a delivery system for lemon in all its vinous suggestions: lemon drop, roasted lemon and lemon balm, macerated in dried thyme and tarragon. Acid is crisp and lively, and a stream of minerals flows from mid-palate back, bringing cool balance to the enterprise. A wine that begs for roasted or broiled fish. Very Good+. About $17.
The 12th edition of Sokol Blosser’s Evolution non-vintage American White Wine combines — ready for this? — pinot gris, muller thurgau, riesling, semillon, muscat canelli, gewuraztraminer, pinot blanc, chardonnay and sylvaner. Since each of these grapes on its own is capable of being made into excellent, if not exceptional, wines, I don’t know if “the grapes come together and create a flavor greater than the sum of its parts,” as the press release says, but I do know that this is a terrifically charming and flavorful wine. The wine displays a sense of flamboyance neatly wedded to asperity; notes of ripe peach, lime and lychee are twined with some astringent white flower, and if you add orange zest and a touch of candied lime peel, a wash of minerality and a hint of bracing bitterness in the finish, well, you have a wine that’s pretty damned irresistible. Very Good+. About $18.
OK, the price is pushing it for inclusion in the “inexpensive” category, but the way wine prices are increasing $20 is the new $15, and anyway, you see this on the Internet as low as $14. So, the MacMurray Ranch Pinot Gris 2007, Sonoma Coast, is vibrant, lively and bracing, dry and crisp. Lemon balm, peach and melon flavors are swathed in smoky spicy oak, from a deftly handled regime of 19 percent of the wine aging two months on the lees in used French barrels. Almond and apple blossom segue in, and a bright edge of limestone dominates the finish. Lovely personality and presence. Very Good+. About $20.