Muller-thurgau


Let’s say that for dinner you’re having cod stew with leeks, potatoes and chorizo or a spicy shrimp risotto or grilled swordfish with a black pepper crust. This is not the time for a delicate, winsome little white wine and probably not even a lighter red, It’s the time for a savory white wine, earthy, bracing, saline. These are especially appropriate for these chilly Fall weeks that lead into Winter. Herein, I offer nine examples of such savory white wines, not really accommodating as aperitif quaffs, because of their assertive personalities, but certainly amenable for heartier fish and seafood dishes. Enjoy!
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The Apaltagua Reserva Pinot Gris 2017, San Antonio Valley, Chile, displays a pale straw-gold color and seductive aromas of mango and begonia, with notes of green olive and preserved lemon and a background of limestone and flint; the wine is quite lively and alluring on the palate, supple and lithe, a bit elusive and mysterious in its interesting character that balances tropical elements with spareness and bracing salinity; the finish brings in hints of grapefruit bitterness and damp limestone. 13.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2019 or 2020 at a stretch. Very Good+. About $13, representing Real Value.
Global Vineyards Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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The people behind the Baker & Brain Grüner Veltliner 2016, Edna Valley, are Josh Baker and Matt Brain. From this grape, so well-known in Austria, they fashioned a wine that offers a very pale straw-gold hue and enticing aromas of heather and hay, smoke, celery leaf and lilac, with a gradual infusion of apple and pear; a few moments in the glass bring in the grape’s signature touch of white pepper with hints of loam and sage in the background; as a silky texture seduces the palate, the element of damp limestone minerality lends a crystalline effect. 13.9 percent alcohol. Production was 417 cases. Drink through 2020. Certified by SIP: Sustainability in Practice. Excellent. About $27.
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Campania, which means “fields” or “countryside,” was the granary for the Roman Empire. It’s a large, and these days fairly poor, region that spreads north, east and south from the coastal city of Naples, its primary urban area. Wine production in Campania relies heavily on indigenous grapes, of which a notable (though minority) example is the white falanghina, which has its own DOC in Falanghina del Sannio, north of Naples. The Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2017, which spent five months in stainless steel, offers a pale golden hue and enticing aromas of roasted lemons, lemon balm, greengage and dried thyme; a few moments in the glass bring in notes of bee’s-wax and jasmine; lively acidity keeps the wine flowing pertly over the palate, while traces of limestone and flint minerality lend structure; a sort of mimosa leaf/sea breeze salinity adds bracing freshness and purity. 13 percent alcohol. Delightful but with a hint of depth. Now through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $23.
Imported by Terlato Wine International, Lake Bluff, Ill.
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Made from 100 percent sauvignon blanc grapes, the Grgich Hills Fume Blanc 2016, Napa Valley, was fermented 80 percent in 900-gallon oak casks, the rest in used barriques, after which the wine aged six months in neutral barrels; any oak influence is so subtle as to be almost subliminal. The color is very pale straw-gold; penetrating notes of grapefruit and lime peel, jasmine and lemon grass and green tea are highlighted by hints of iodine and limestone, with a snap of gunflint; it’s a dry wine of beautiful and alluring shape, tone and presence on the palate, with a talc-like texture riven by electric acidity and undercurrents of a sweetly earthy character: think rain on dusty roof tiles or the finest grained and sifted clay. For the rest, the wine is chiseled, faceted and crystalline with varietal purity and intensity and a feeling of connection to its vineyard, the sun and the wind. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2021 or ’22. Exceptional. About $31.
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Murrieta’s Well “The Whip” White Wine Blend 2016, Livermore Valley, combines 33 percent sauvignon blanc, 24 percent semillon, 21 percent chardonnay, 12 orange muscat and 10 viognier, fermented and aged 14 months primarily in stainless steel, with a portion of the sauvignon blanc and chardonnay barrel fermented and aged. It’s a wine of star-like intensity and freshness, offering a light straw-gold hue and bright aromas of spiced pear and roasted lemon, heather and hay, with hints of pineapple and grapefruit encompassed in a sort of leafy greenness; a few moments in the glass add notes of damp flint and limestone, all of these elements carries through with spareness and elegance to the palate; while acidity is vivid and vivacious, this is not exactly a whip-like wine, it’s much too amenable for that term. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $26.
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The Opolo Vineyards Roussanne 2017, Central Coast, feels pretty darned classic to the grape’s origin in the southern Rhone Valley. (Though the official appellation here is Central Coast, the winery’s website informs us that the grapes derive from the Willow Creek AVA of Paso Robles.) The color is very pale straw-gold; heady aromas of green apples and pears, quince and ginger are permeated by notes of jasmine and honeysuckle, bee’s-wax and lanolin. A lovely, lithe talc-like texture is enlivened by singing acidity, assisted by scintillating chalk and flint minerality; flavors of spiced and macerated yellow stone-fruit lead to a finish of smoke and grapefruit skin. 13.8 percent alcohol. Opolo is a member of SIP: Sustainability in Practice. Production was 400 cases. Excellent. About $26.
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The furmint grape is the principal variety in the production of Hungary’s traditional long-lived Tokaji dessert wines, but, in a more recent development, it can also be made into palatable and attractive dry white wines. If we take the Oremus Mandolas Furmint 2016 as an example, then the assessment is far better than merely palatable. The color is a pale but radiant gold hue that practically shimmers in the glass; it’s a pert, pithy and lip-smacking wine that features notes of spiced pear and apple skin, quince and ginger, with hints of almond blossom and heather; the equilibrium between chiming purity and clarity and a slightly resinous element is intriguing and thrilling; the finish brings in an element of dusty flint minerality. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2020 to ’22. Oremus has been owned since 1993 by the great Spanish estate Bodegas Vega Sicilia. Excellent. About $27.
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Re Manfredi 2017, Basilicata Bianco, is an unusual blend of 70 percent Müller-Thurgau grapes and 30 percent gewürztraminer, grown in volcanic soil at an elevation of 1,000 feet. This occurs in Basilicata, the instep, one could say, of the Italian boot; not a great deal of wine is grown in this region, where the principal grape is the red aglianico. The wine was made completely in stainless steel. The color is pale straw-gold; pert aromas of lime peel and grapefruit, ginger and quince are highlighted by notes of lilac and jasmine. Gewurztraminer brings crisp acidity and flavors of slightly roasted peach and spiced pear; overall, the texture is lithe and delicate, lightly emboldened by an element of damp limestone. 13 percent alcohol. The grape is named for Dr. Herman Muller, who, though he was working in Germany, hailed from the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. He produced this crossing of riesling with (he thought) silvaner in 1882; subsequent DNA profiling reveals the grape to be not silvaner but madeleine royale, itself an obscure hybrid created in 1845. Verily, the world of wine is filled with dark corners. Whatever, the Re Manfredi 2017, Basilicato Bianco, is attractive, tasty and appealing. Drink up. Very Good+. About $25.
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.
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It’s always easy to toss around the word “unique,” especially in the realm of the world’s wines, since an infinite number of grapes, blends, regions and styles exists in a dazzling and confounding array. Still, I will venture out to the tip of the twig here and assert that the Borealis non-vintage white blend, Willamette Valley, is pretty damned unique. It’s a product of Montinore Vineyards, one of whose pinot noir wines I will write about soon. It is, first, of interest because non-vintage wines are unusual from the West Coast. “Non-vintage” really means “multi-vintage,” because as a concept it allows winemakers to assemble a cuvée from several harvests in order to achieve the particular balance they’re looking for, also the basis for non-vintage Champagne and sparkling wine. Second, the blend on this Borealis is straight out of Alsace, reflecting the style called edelzwicker, in this case being a provocative combination of 38 percent müller-thurgau, 32 percent gewürztraminer, 19 percent riesling and 11 percent pinot gris. The color is very pale gold; aromas of honeysuckle and quince, peaches and spiced pears are spare and delicate and serve as introductory foil to the wine’s lip-smacking succulence jazzed by bright acidity. A few moments in the glass bring in notes of lychee, apple skin and almond blossom. This is quite dry, fine-boned and chiseled in structure, like the most fragile of china tea-cups, yet there’s tensile power too, as the racy acidity propels the wine through a finish flecked with petrol and grapefruit rind. 12.3 percent alcohol. A lovely aperitif or for drinking with mildly spicy Southeast Asian food, seafood risottos and stews, or, paradoxically, with pork roast and apples. Excellent. About $16, representing Great Value.

A sample for review.