Posts Tagged ‘white wine’

Kicking your Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc Addiction: Italian Whites

April 21, 2010

Wine addiction? No worries, we all have been there. I hit rock bottom when for a while, I refused to drink anything but Kendall Jackson Chardonnay ($22.99) which is very good by the way, keeping its quality consistent through the years. When I thought I was on my way to rehabilitation wham! I stumbled upon Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs and the Jackson Estates “Stich” kept me semi-comatose for a while, with its charming fruit and exciting acidity.

However, a true wine lover must be an explorer. So I went back to the wine roads of the world, wide and long and branching off at every turn. There was Greece with its refreshing, intriguing Moschofilero, Argentina with its potent Torrontes and France with its Rousanne-Marsanne-Viognier blends. I decided to go Italy. No regrets. Here is what I found.

Poggio al Tesoro 2008. Bolgheri Solosole IGT Vermentino. $29.99. Tesoro means treasure. Solosole goes for “only sun.” This wine honors both its monikers. Rich, deep and audaciously citrusy.

Primo V Prosecco 2008. Treviso. $22.99. Your buds will dance to the lemony, bright, chalky music of this sparkling darling.

Plozner Tocai Friuliano 2008. DOC Friuli Grave. Very fragant nose, a bit grassy and mellow on the palate. Loved the finish, a tad almondy-bitter.

Verdicchio di Matelica Vigneti del Cerro 2008. “Belisario”. $17.99. Stupendous Verdicchio. Fresh, minerally and with a large acidic footprint. Don’t look further for your next salmon barbeque white. Where can you buy it?

Feudo Arancio Grillo 2006/07. Sicily. $16.99. Mango leads the tropical fruit charge, followed by a refreshing palate with slightly creamy texture. When you get tired of Grigio ask for Grillo.

Of all five, for quality vs value I recommend the Belisario Verdicchio di Matelica. If there is only one you could taste before trashing your monthly wine budget, that would be the Plozner Friuliano. If you do, get some good quality Prosciutto, perfect Italian match.

Chi Veddiamo!

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White Wine, Good Value and the Butterfly Effect

April 7, 2010

Not talking here of the white, fine hail that whipped me on my bike last evening, in Burnaby Heights, my hood. I want to feature a few whites that you should taste. Whites are ever more relevant in the market. I figure that, after a long time being sidelined by consumers, now that they are accepted by mainstream critics and writers, they start to shine. The more open you are  to enjoying something, the more you will enjoy it. Until last year I heard constantly “no, I don’t drink white” or “white wine gives me headaches” or even worse “they have lots of sulphites.” And lots of people still resist white wine; but a lot more are starting to appreciate it for what it is and for it can give to you. No red can exhibit the levels of refreshing acidity a good white can. And with good acidity, flavors are highlighted, focused, sharpened, delimited, underscored. Not to mention aromas. A red offering floral whiffs is like a few flowers, perhaps a bunch. A good aromatic white is like sniffing in the whole garden.

From the top.

Casas del Bosque 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. $17.99. Are you kidding me? 18 bucks for this Chilean gold medallist (Concourse Mondial du Bruxelles 08)? Geologists love minerals and critics love citrics and this one has both plus plenty of alluring fruit.

Jackson Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. You enjoy Sauv Blanc from New Zealand? This is the one you should pick. 20 dollars of pungent grass and persistent tropical, guava flavors that surf down your palate on a wave of shiny acidity. No wonder why the empty spots on the shelves.

Domaine de Grachies 2009. This blend from Cotes de Gascogne will turn heads –and open wallets- at 11.99. Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc join forces to render an impressive table white.

The Hermit Crab 2008 by D’Arenberg. $21.99. Oh yummy Viognier/Marsanne blend. Fleshy and refreshing, with solid pear fruit.

Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc. $10.49. When looking for a budget white, look at this cheapie. Tropical and limey, with vibrant acidity and  slight background “Southafrican” aromas. Another reason? Great label! Click on pic.

Two in the Bush 2008 Chardonnay. $20.95. Chardonnay lovers, rejoice. A basket of fruit led by ripe banana. Smooth, creamy and nicely oaked.

Claar Cellars Riesling. $22.99. A Southafrican sounding name for this Columbia Valley Riesling with checks in all the right boxes. Bright acidity, check. Lip smacking citrus, check. Sweet tropical fruit, check.

Go white. Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? It works, its true. If all of us drink more white, the sun will show up more often. Serious.

Food and Wine Matching For The Un-initiated

September 17, 2009

This is an almost esoteric subject for most. So much has been written about it that you may think -I do think- why write another line? Well, I do it because it is fun and because I love food and I love wine. So there you go. Like everybody else, I guess, except for those who like chips out of a bag, burgers out of a fast-crapfood joint and prefer carbonated drinks to accompany their “fare”.

“White wine is for fish, red wine for meat”. Who hasn’t heard this from people who are in the wine “know?”. And the reality is that there is certain validity to the claim. But as a guideline only. Remember Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean? Same idea. It is not a code, it is just a guideline. You need to know a bit more than that, basic, intuitive (we all have tastebuds after all) understanding. And you need an imagination, you need to let it soar, you have to exercise it.

For instance, every time I eat, I am thinking mmm….what could I pair this with? I was just thinking about this when a few days ago, I had a plate of lentils on white rice. The lentils were seasoned with sauteed chopped garlic, onion, tomato and pureed roasted red pepper. So, very tasty indeed, and sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley and generously splashed with olive oil at serving. One of my favorite brunch meals indeed. Viognier, I thought, almost intuitively, bringing to mind the moderate acidity of that varietal matching the dish’s. A little more acidity in the wine to cut through the olive-oily film coating my palate? Perhaps an unoaked Chardonnay. Something with a bit of body to go with the weight of seasoned lentils.

So, there you go. White wines would work well. But what about red? Some people, as we know, cannot tolerate white. Not too much body here. A big heavily oaked Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz would suffocate the rather bland character of the dish. Unoaked? Check. Medium to light medium body? Check. Low alcohol? Check? I figured something like Periquita, a Portuguese table wine made of Castelao, Tinta Roriz and Trincadeira grapes. Easy, smooth, fruity, uncomplicated. Perfect. It could be anything like that. Don’t bring the heavy artillery for this small infantry job.

To conclude this note, keep in mind things that are no mystery: Acidity of the dish, acidity of the wine. Let them run together. Weight, or body. How strong is the imprint of the food on your palate? The wine chosen should be equally strong, or weak. And it must be added, you don’t need a great wine to do pairing. White wine for fish, red wine for meat? Yes, but as a guideline only, not code. Don’t be intimidated. Is no rocket science.