Bill’s Best Bets – July 2015
Going weird with white is really not that risky
by Bill Zacharkiw
We are so fortunate in Quebec to have such exceptional access to so many wines from lesser known regions and appellations, especially from Europe. Often, these are the places one finds the strange grapes. While I love trying new grape varieties, I know many people are hesitant. So as many of you are on vacation over the next month, make an effort to try something new.
Here are some recently released white wines that fall into the category of “what the hell is that?” To make things easier for you, I have included comparisons, if possible, to well known wine styles and grape varieties so you know what you are getting.
If you want a wine that’s aromatic, rather than going for a pinot grigio, how about a moschofilero? You will find the same boisterous aromatics, but with a slightly richer texture. Indigenous to Greece’s Peloponnese, it’s a sure-fire hit and inexpensive alternative. Both the 2014 Mantinia from Tselepos and the 2013 Mantania from Greek Wine Cellars will do the trick.
If you like your wines a touch less aromatic but dry and crispy, à la sauvignon blanc, there are a number of alternatives. A killer wine I drank recently was the 2014 Cuvee Des Conti from Chateau Tour des Gendres. Made with a field blend of semillon, muscadelle with a bit of sauvignon, this is one of the best wines I have tasted this summer, and it’s under $20. Closer to home, the 2014 Cuvee William from Quebec winery, Riviere de Chene is wonderfully dry, and made with vandal-cliche, vidal and frontenac blanc.
For those searching for something delicate, that will work as both an aperitif and with lighter fare like white fish, oysters, and salads, how about the grape picpoul? This is the muscadet of the Languedoc and Chateau Saint-Martin de la Garrigue makes a great one, if richer than most. A true classic picpoul comes from the Maison Jeanjean, the Omarine and for under $13, won’t break the bank.
If you are looking for something more substantial, to pair with white meats or richer seafood, and want to try something other than chardonnay, then look to the 2013 Pacherenc du Vic Bilh from Chateau Laffitte-Teston. Made with gros and petit manseng along with petit courbu, this is a trippy wine that offers spice alongside the rich texture. One of the most regal wines I have tasted this summer comes from the Languedoc, and Domaine Auphilac. The 2013 Cocalieres is made with roussanne, vermentino, grenache and marsanne. Let this warm up to really appreciate its depth and texture.
What about those intriguing wines? The head scratchers which challenge, but reward you for taking a chance. One of those I absolutely loved hails from Corsica. The Corse Calvi 2014 Fiumeseccu from Domaine d’Alzipratu is one of those wines. Mineral, rich yet fresh, with a great complexity of fruit. If you love cooking with spice, this wine will eat it up! Of similar ilk, the 2013 Fiano di Avellino from Mastroberardino will spice up any seafood evening.
And finally, most people don’t drink nearly enough bubbles. Nothing beats bubbles as an aperitif when it’s hot, and I love a good cider. From Entre Pierre et Terre, the Dandy Sexy Dog is a great cider – dry and refined. For a pure aperitif, if you want just a hint of sweetness, the Cremant from du Minot always impresses.
“There’s enjoyment to be had of a glass of wine without making it a fetish.” – Frank Prial
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