Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reliable Whites Part 2

On to the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) category.

Usually I find wines like this friendlier with more foods than the admittedly over maligned aforementioned variety.

Dry Creek Fume Blanc - The generally safe assumption that Fume Blanc from California has been aged in some oak is not accurate in this case. Robert Mondavi coined the term Fume Blanc for California Sauvignon Blanc that had been aged in oak; while there are some very solid versions of that style available, too many have lost their core Sauvignon nature and have become poor, pale interpretations of Chardonnay. Dave Stare planted the first Sauvignon Blanc in Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma County) in 1972 against the advice of many growers. His dedication and perseverance give us an amazingly intense and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc that perhaps confuses people because he adopted the accepted name at the time. This wine consistently wins oyster pairing competitions and is a favorite of people who want 'real' Sauvignon Blanc from the United States. Racy and full of citrus notes I have often surprised people by revealing this wine's country of origin. $11-$13.

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc - The first New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to impress me, this wine continues to be a fantastic example of the style. It never hits the overly intense grapefruit aromas/flavors that make so many New Zealand Sauv Blancs both famous and difficult to pair with food. Here, I find more moderate citrus notes and even some tropical notes of melon and passion fruit. It is a solid example without some of the extremes that can be a bit overwhelming on the palate and at the table. This is the most expensive wine I have recommended in the 'Reliable' posts, but it is worth it if you are a Sauvignon Blanc fan. Importer - Negociants USA, $12 (a ridiculous deal, don't count on this price) - $17.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do currently sell the Negociants portfolio, although that relationship will cease before year's end as I leave my current employer to explore new options. I have been excited about the Nautilus since early on in my wine career though. I also sell the Oxford Landing wines, but was concerned about needing to sell them until I tasted the full line.

Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc - I have NEVER tasted an Australian Sauvignon Blanc as fresh and bright at this price point. Quite fantastic actually, this wine is aged in all stainless steel and offers the classic citrus notes we all look for in Sauvignon Blanc. The fact that it is priced so attractively and is so reliable (three vintages for me) is, frankly, awe inspiring. 'nuff said. Negociants USA, $7-$9.

Oxford Landing Viognier - Okay, I hear you, this guy's a shill. There is nothing better than finding a winery that consistently produces wonderful wines, it is the entire premise of these 'Reliable' posts. I will point out that I find their reds from Oxford Landing only correct, not exciting. The whites though, are in a class by themselves! Luisa Rose is simply the best winemaker I have ever seen with the finicky variety of Viognier. This grape goes from 'just right' to 'too late' in a matter of hours. She has been well awarded for her work with the variety and justifiably so. When done properly it is full of honeysuckle, peaches, apricots and pairs beautifully with spicy seafood and Thai food. Having been lucky enough to meet her and taste her wines, I will remain a devoted follower. Bravo, bravo! Imported by Negociants USA, $7-$9. On a somewhat related note, experiment with any Yalumba Viognier you come across as well. A tasting of the full line will be featured here at some point

Sorry, no Riesling to be presented here as I find the vast majority that are widely distributed enough to be represented here are much too sweet and innocuous for me. so, if you must have Riesling I recommend looking for Mosel (a region) wines from Germany.

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