Tag Archives: white blend

W(h)ining: Aromatic Whites and a Toast to the Spring Season

25 Mar

I was delighted to pour a flight of three aromatic white wines on Sunday to celebrate the first day of spring.  I was a bit apprehensive, though, that many of my tasting-bar customers would be less than excited by the offering of all white, off-dry wines.  But the intense fragrance and vibrant, mouthwatering, palate of wines poured from unassuming, Alsatian bottles, pleasantly surprised many folks who might normally shy away from this style of wine.

I’ve noticed that a majority of consumers drink only red, or very little white, and almost everyone, it seems, is afraid of a touch of sweetness in their wine.  I’m not sure if it’s the memory of sugary, flavourless, mass-produced American White Zinfandel circa 1980, or the surprisingly explosive sweetness of that first sip of quality icewine, but it seems to me there is a general reluctance to try off-dry, or, as many people mistakenly call them, ‘sweet’ wines.  An off-dry wine, unlike a sweet wine such icewine, late harvest wine, or port, has just a touch of residual sugar, and, if made to my liking, a good amount of mouthwatering  acidity to balance the sweetness; indeed, this is precisely the difference between an exquisite off-dry Gewürztraminer, and an unpalatably cloying wine of the 80s blush variety.  Acidity in off-dry wine is kind of like a squeeze of lemon in a recipe; it brightens the flavours of the wine, adds a bit of tartness to balance the sweetness, and provides a clean finish to a round palate.

Now, to answer the obvious question I’ve neglected thus far:  What is an aromatic wine?  Wines that are considered ‘aromatic’ exhibit an intense nose, or fragrance, of flowers, fruit, and spices that come from the grape itself, Vinification, by contrast, or the winemaker’s tinkering, produces what we call the bouquet rather than the aroma of the wine.  The bouquet of a Syrah might exhibit characteristics of vanilla and smoke from the oak barrels it is aged in, for example, and its aroma might show luscious black fruit and white pepper.

Some wine varieties (or grapes) considered aromatic are Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc, although wines from these grapes do not always exhibit the intense nose characteristic of an aromatic wine, and sometimes wines can be aromatic even if they’re not made from grapes that are typically considered ‘aromatic.’

The wines I poured on Sunday, however, were all exceptional examples of aromatic wines, and perfect for welcoming the spring season, with their bright aromas of fresh fruit and flowers. Continue reading

Tahbilk Marsanne (2007)

20 May

marsanne-lg

Tablas Creek Vineyard has given Marsanne a new home in Paso Robles, California

Marsanne, the most widely planted white grape of the northern Rhone Valley, has a long history– not in single varietal bottlings, but rather as a blending grape. In Hermitage, Marsanne is blended with Roussane to produce the white wine of the appellation; in our opinion, white Hermitage is one of the most overlooked great wines of the world. Incidentally, along with Roussane, up to 15% of Marsanne can be added to the red wines of Hermitage under AOC regulations. For a stellar example of white Hermitage, try Chave’s Hermitage Blanc.

Apart from these origins in the Rhone, Marsanne plantings have expanded in Australia, so much that now 80% of the world’s Marsanne is grown there. The grape was first planted in Australia in 1860, and while most of these original vines are gone, the wines in the vineyard of Chateau Tahbilk, in Victoria, are among the oldest in the world, dating to 1927.

A number of challenges in viticulture stand in the way of single varietal Marsanne exploding in popularity. The grape is highly sensitive to extreme temperatures: when the climate is too warm, Marsanne is short on acidity, limiting its ability to age well; when climate is too cool, the wines tend to be neutral and uninteresting. One strategy employed by winemakers is to harvest Marsanne just before it hits full ripeness, in order to retain some acidity.

from http://www.wineaccess.com/

Tahbilk Marsanne 2007tahbilk marsanne
Central Victoria, Australia
$17.99 Everything Wine

This unusual variety is rarely seen outside of blended whites from the Rhone Valley, and it’s even more unusual to find it without any of its typical partners like Rousanne, Viognier or Grenache Blanc. The Marsanne grape typically offers bright aromas of citrus, quince and honeysuckle with mineral, almond and a rich, slightly oily mouthfeel. Tahbilk specializes in Rhone varieties, and its 2007 Marsanne offers those expected elements, plus tropical pineapple and lime aromas, white peach and apricot flavours and crisp acidity. The palate is rich and full, but not from barrel fermentation. A great unoaked white for the brave or curious or as a good alternative to Viognier. 88 points

V I N O | V A L O R E {issue 6}

20 Mar
The 2008 releases from JoieFarm are out now, but won't last long!

The 2008 releases from JoieFarm are out now, but won't last long!

download issue 6.pdf

Issue six of vino valore is all-BC. I was lucky enough to taste a selection of the 2008 offerings from JoieFarm recently, and I’ve summed up that tasting for you. I’ve also included a few BC Best Buys from recent tastings. Spring is here: time for some fresh local wines. Cheers!

~Joe Corkscrew

download issue 6.pdf

please note, issue six is extra long!  print on legal sheet.

V I N O | V A L O R E {issue 4}

20 Feb
domaine-gauby-roussillion

in this issue: Domaine Gauby Cotes du Rousillon Rouges 2006 - 90 points

download issue 4.pdf

Issue four is the biggest vino valore yet, with seven great wines reviewed and a report from the first IVSA tasting of the new year. Cheers!

~Joe Corkscrew

download issue 4.pdf


V I N O | V A L O R E {issue 3}

6 Feb

luna-cropIt’s the dead of winter and the middle of a global recession, so I’ve reviewed a handful of great-value wines made from grapes that might be new to you. Spice things up this February (without maxing the plastic) with a tasty Mencía or Cortese. And while you’re at it, pick up a little something for the sweetheart – Valentine’s Day is next week! I can help: issue three of vino valore is here!

download issue 3.pdf

* * * * *

in this issue, discover little-known grape varieties like:

Pedro Jimenez

Cortese

Mencia

…and more!

download issue 3.pdf

more reviews and exclusive articles here

email joe: vinovalore@gmail.com

Four More Whites

22 Jan

Church and State Wines Viognier 2007church-and-state
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$24.90 Winery Direct

Beautiful and intensely floral nose followed by a creamy peach palate. Some malolactic fermentation adds to the richness. Best BC Viognier I’ve tasted to date. Former Burrowing Owl winemaker Bill Dyer has contributed to a greatly improved portfolio at Church and State, now boasting an impressive range of primarily Okanagan-grown offerings. 89 points – Very Good


Anakena Single Vineyard Riesling 2006
Maule Valley, Chile
$16.99 Everything Wine

Nice concentration and Riesling character, with lime, honey, petrol and crisp acidity. A touch of alcoholic heat and an abrubt finish. 84 points – OK


Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2007
VQA British Columbia
$16.49 Winery Direct

A bright, fruity nose with peach and honey aromas. The palate is crisp and simple, but pleasant. 84 points – OK


Henry’s Drive Vignerons Pillar Box White 2006
Padthaway, Australia
$13.99 Everything Wine, BC Liquor Stores (delisted)

A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdelho. Recently reduced from $16.99 and all but sold out in BC. Granny Smith apple, citrus and spicy oak. Not a bad little white for the (new) price, but not really worth seeking out. 82 points – OK

V I N O | V A L O R E | {issue 1}

9 Jan
download issue 1.pdf

Welcome to the inaugaural issue of vino valore, a new bi-weekly wine rag that highlights my great-value finds from around the world. My motivation stems from a persistent desire to discover wines that over-deliver at their respective price points. This humble newsletter is my way of sharing those discoveries with adventuresome wine lovers like you.

Cheers!

~Joe Corkscrew

download issue 1.pdf

Continue reading