By Celia Strong
Another monthly tasting, another good time, and another good wine for each of us. My group of wine tasting friends got together to sample a series of new, to them at least, white wines for summer. Interestingly, the line up did not have any Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs or Pinot Grigios. Not that there’s anything wrong with these three varieties, and not that they don’t taste good in the summer, but it’s always seemed to me that hot summer weather is made for trying new grapes as well as new wines. So we did. Five new whites, and each one of them was somebody’s favorite.
Even though we’ve talked about several of these wines before, some of them we haven’t so they’ll be new to even us. We have to remember, too, that even though we may have tried some of them before, as soon as they are in a line up with four other wines they all of a sudden taste different. This in itself is one of the great things about these monthly tastings — we all gain new perspectives from each other’s comments, and hopefully a new appreciation for the wines we taste. It’s amazing how if a wine you thought was just OK is really liked by others, you automatically re-evaluate your opinion. Don’t have to change it necessarily, but you do reconsider. Another sip of this and another sip of that all among friends is a well spent hour!
But, on to our wines. I’ll tell you about them in the order we tasted them and share some of our reactions to each. We started with a French wine, Marc Roman Terret. This wine is from the Lanquedoc-Rousillon area, not expensive ($6.99) and not pretentious. It’s clean and crisp, fresh and juicy, smooth with rounded fruit flavors and floral aromas. The mild acidity is well balanced with the fruit flavors. This is our second summer with this wine and it flies off the shelf this time of year. Our tasters today liked the easiness of this wine — nothing out of the ordinary in its flavors and textures, just good, basic, affordable white wine that never never let’s you down.
Next, we tasted Condessa Eylo Verdejo ($10.99) from Spain. This wine we’ve also talked about before, but it was new to this group. And, like I mentioned earlier, in this setting with this list of other wines, it does taste kind of different. This wine includes three percent Sauvignon Blanc and has flavors that include yellow apples, lemons, oranges and a hint of herbal flavors, in particular lavender. And get this: This was the only wine with a cork today. What progress we’re making with new closures. Tasted by itself, or in another line like the first time I tried it, this wine can seem a lot drier than it did today. One couple loved this wine for its bright acidity that didn’t overpower the wine’s flavors. Most of us really liked this wine for sipping and agreed it was a great food wine as well.
Wine number three was new for all of us. Sort of. I haven’t talked to you about it here before, but we have talked about Albarinos. This is a Spanish grape that makes clean, crisp, bright wines. As good as the others that we carry are, the Eidosela Albarino ($11.99) is it for me. The real reason we haven’t talked about it here is because it would have been really redundant. Most of us have managed to drink it without publicity. This wine sells itself! My group today had one couple like it best, although everyone liked it. A lot. Again, this is a good drinking for the sake of drinking wine and a good food wine. Think of fried shrimp. Happy, happy.
Our fourth wine came from California. It’s made by a winery named Siduri which is known for their wonderful Pinot Noirs. With wonderful prices too. One of our tasters today had been to Siduri and was shocked to see a white wine from them. And liked it too! Novy Four Mile Creek White ($10.99), by Siduri, is a blend of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Blanc de Pinot Noir. Definitely an interesting assortment of grapes, but combined together they don’t taste anything like what we expected. Most of us thought it would be fruitier and even maybe sweeter, but not at all. That’s why you can’t be afraid to try. One person who knew they wouldn’t like it chose it as their favorite. So there! This wine is new for everyone because we just got it in for the first time. I tasted it a couple of months ago, a sample bottle at a warehouse, and it’s still as good now as it was then. It’s interesting that a bit of Pinot Noir adds just enough weight to this wine to make it really food friendly. This was my personal favorite today because it’s the newest.
And, last, but not least, we tried Grooner Gruner Veltliner ($10.99). Gruner Veltliner is an Austrian grape that is sort of a chameleon. Depending on the elevation it grows at, it can resemble both a Pinot Blanc and a really mild Gewurztraminer. Either way it is a great match or all kinds of Asian flavors. It is dry and crisp with tart green apple flavors mixed up with tropical fruit flavors (star fruit) and a teeny weeny bit of spicyness. I have to tell you, one couple returned and returned and returned to this bottle. I think they like Thai food and found a great new wine to go with it.
So, there they are. Four not so common white grape varieties and one blend. It was really exciting seeing everyone’s reactions to them all. Most of the group was familiar with the not so common grapes because they do travel, many to Europe, so they know Verdejo and Albarino and Gruner Veltliner. But, since they are from different countries and regions, tasting them all at the same time was a treat. I should mention that when we started all the wines were very cold — right out of the ice bucket. As we re-tasted and discussed them they did lose a bit of their cold. Not good, not bad. Just interesting. The fact that they were all liked really, really cold shows you how good they are for hot weather drinking. And look how lucky we were to have this atrociously hot and humid weather. Just so you know, our tasting list is set in January of each year. Of course we expected hot weather for this month, but high 90 degrees for this group of wines was a bonus. (And that’s the only positive thing I have to say about the weather!) So, enjoy the heat and some new wines!
By Celia Strong