A whole world of crisp, thirst quenching whites: don’t sweat the details – enjoy the variety!
Good wine knowledge, passed on in manageable doses, can help reverse those perceptions, especially since people take pride in what they know. Simply practice taking care and having patience as others learn. Keep that party analogy in mind – how many names can you learn in one evening?
An exploration of this year’s countless new releases of pleasing, crisp whites can be done a country or region at a time, quenching one bout of thirst at a time.
AUSTRIA – Gruner Veltliner could easily be everyone’s favorite white. The acidity and its refreshing flavor, with light citrus notes and some cool minerals, are just right for a lunch out in the sun. Austria’s Berger Winery supplies their 2009 vintage in a generous one-liter bottle.
AUSTRALIA – Sometimes bottled by itself, and sometimes blended, Verdelho is another fast-track favorite. It can smell like little honeyed white flowers and offer hints of lime and pineapple on the tongue. Native to Portugal, Verdelho flourishes in Australia; the 2009 label from Woop Woop is loaded with nuances of tropical fruit.
ITALY – Near Naples, they grow and bottle Falanghina, a mineral-rich, crisp white that can sometimes break the rules and age long-term. The 2008 Falanghina from Terredora Winery has a very appetizing nuance of apricots. While there is an enormous variety of great whites from this ancient country, the Italians must still fight some white wine stereotypes left over from the 1970s (thanks to cheap bottles of Soave, and more recently to a glut of cheap Pinot Grigio).
NEW ZEALAND – Sauvignon Blanc, one of the classic whites of Bordeaux, found new life – exciting life – in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Typically loaded with flavors of grapefruit, or otherwise known for a grassy, herbaceous character, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc can be sold with the word “zing” in the sales pitch. The 2009 from Villa Maria is layered with flavors, even a hint of orange, and wouldn’t just complement an indulgent summer lunch, it would steal the show.
SPAIN – From the Rueda region in north-central Spain, Verdejo is not to be confused with Spain’s white Viura. Verdejo is fuller-bodied than Viura, a little more in the direction of Chardonnay but certainly not the same. The 2008 Ovacion Verdejo from Viña Bajoz is 100% Verdejo and a delightful choice for a warm weather dinner of grilled white meats and fish.
Taking just a few steps away from the usual whites and into the world’s wider variety is a move toward increased enjoyment and bounty in the summer wine glass. Yes, it is time for the cool, crisp whites of summer, and time to share the pleasures.