The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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Page 32 of 116

32  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2016 TAKING FLIGHT T he heat breaks, the days shorten, and we start to honor our soulful, autumnal craving for the roasted, baked and fried. Some wine lovers steer away from white wines now— even abandon them altogether until the cherry blossoms bloom again. That's a pity. Sure, classic harvest foods like venison, squashes, game birds, smoked meats and savory pastries call for wines with real sub- stance. We could reach for a big-boned Chardonnay, but that custardy richness is best for deep winter. What we really need to serve and sell are transition whites, wines that segue between the lemony-crispness of summer and the heady redolence of winter. Whites with volume but acidity to keep things light. Wines inherently rich without cellar tinkering, with flavors of stone fruits, pome fruits (apples, pears), honey, a filigree of nut and spice, a woodsy sweetness truly evocative of fall. Fortunately, options abound. Grape varieties like Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Albariño and Sémillon are intrinsically opulent without being syrupy. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris have comparable heft, although their flavors skew more toward pome fruits, perfect for fall. Rhône whites have oomph to bal- ance richer food and herbal notes that beautifully accent vegetables. Grapes with spicy flavors, like Gewürztraminer, are wonderful with cheeses, apples and nuts. Gewürz is a go-to for piquant Pacific Rim cuisine. Below are seven whites I've selected for fall, focused on options that deliver value. Customers may be unfamiliar with some of these grapes, but that's where you as a professional come in. It's high season to give them a try. Transition Wines FEL 2015 Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley ($25) Just what I'm seeking in an autumnal wine: moony and luminous, it wraps the silky succulence of pome fruits around a glittery acid core. A hint of nuts and honey adds dimension. LEDE FAMILY WINES Alois Lageder 2013 Haberle Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige DOC, Italy ($23) Sappy like a bite of yellow apple drenched in lemon and acacia honey. Bottle age has added a tinge of dried fruits and beeswax. DALLA TERRA Stemmari 2013 Dalila Bianco, Terre Siciliane IGT, Italy ($14) Grillo adds apple-y crispness, Viognier adds peachy flesh, and the net effect is a mouthful of orchard fruits and marzipan and bread. PRESTIGE WINE IMPORTS Quinta de Santiago 2014 Alvarinho Reserva Monção e Melgaço, Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal ($21) Barrel-fermenting Alvarinho with skin contact adds structure, texture and spice. This is not a spritzy Vinho Verde, and the non-Reserva offering is also great. Brand new to the U.S. market. SILVER COAST IMPORTS Trimbach 2012 Gewürztraminer, Alsace AOP, France ($21) A per- fume of ginger, cardamom and nutmeg drifts above an exotic mélange of tropical and tree fruits. A touch of residual sugar makes it superlative with spicy cuisine. PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL Dry Creek Vineyard 2014 Chenin Blanc, Wilson Ranch, Clarksburg ($12) A fragrance of sweetgrass, honeysuckle and nectar- ine segues seamlessly to tawny Bosc pear and melon. Jazzy acidity balances the opulence. Michel Chapoutier 2014 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon AOP, France ($16) This blend suggests wet stone, white flowers and yellow melon. An herbal breath drifts through at the finish. TERLATO WINES A wine journalist whose research spans the globe, Meg Houston Maker publishes in wine and lifestyle media and on her own award- winning site, She's a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Find her on social @megmaker. WITH VOLUME AND ACIDITY, THESE WHITE WINES WILL PLAY THE LEAD FOR FALL'S MORE SAVORY DISHES by Meg Houston Maker

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