I’ve wondered whether the lack of mass success of the Viognier grape is because of the tongue-twisting name(pronounced VEE oh NYAY”) or some other reason. With its luscious, aromatic fruit, slight sweetness and sip-ability, you’d think it would be a girlie girl’s dream and be as popular with the chicks as Moscatos are now (more on that later). But, unlike Moscato/Muscat it’s tough to make Viognier well. Pick it too early in the growing season, you won’t get the pretty aromas and rounded flavors; pick it too late and you’ll get a wine that’s syrupy, flabby or has no acid at all. Some wineries get it just right though — Bonterra Vineyards in Mendocino County is one of them.
Read more: Wine review: Bonterra 2010 Viognier Mendocino County
I remember the first time I tasted Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc — a sticky summer day on the patio at my favorite Tampa wine bar, Wine Exchange, circa 2000. A friend in the wine business bought us the bottle, saying that New Zealand Sauv Blancs would be the next big thing. He was right. This island nation has claimed this varietal as their own, in all its cat pee, grapefruit glory. And Cloudy Bay can be considered the triumphant first comer.
Read more: Spring wine review: Cloudy Bay 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
The 2010 vintage in Sonoma County was super cool. And I don’t mean it wore awesome shades and sported the latest fashions — but cold like in France’s Bordeaux region. The heat index just didn’t quite get high enough to ripen grapes to the point of super fruitiness with floral aromatics (like Dry Creek Vineyards’ 2007 SB). So if you like New Zealand style Sauv Blancs (like me) then you’re in heaven with the 2010 wines (read more about Sauvignon Blanc, including how to pronounce it). And you’ll also have something to look forward to in the 2011 vintage, which had similar weather in Sonoma County.
Read more: Wine review: Dry Creek Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley
This luscious, slightly sweet and delightfully affordable white wine blend from France’s rather obscure Côtes du Gasgogne region in the southwest could be the best intro for those new to wine. The Grassa family uses grapes called Ugni Blanc [OOO knee blahnk] and Colombard [CALL um BARD] to make Domaine du Tariquet Classic but they formerly produced Armagnac — a spirit made by distilling grapes — from the same fruit. I’m glad they made the switch.
Read more: Wine Review: Domaine du Tariquet 2010 Classic Cotes du Gasgogne
The Fattori family has been farming their hillside vineyards since the turn of last century, when Antonio Fattori planted vines near a village called Terrossa. Currently, Antonio’s grandson, Antonio Fattori, is the winemaker at the winery, who, in addition to four Soaves, produces a sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
Read more: Wine review: Fattori Danieli 2010 Soave DOC
While most people think Pinot Grigio is the white wine of Italy, I beg to differ. Softer and rounder, Soave white wines from northeastern Italy complement a wider range of food, have an exceptional depth of flavors, and are quite versatile. Like the Rocca Sveva 2009 Soave Classico.
Read more: Wine review: Rocca Sveva 2009 Soave Classico
I admire when a winery steps outside the annoying conservative boundaries of the wine industry. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon fame (an interview with him), The Three Thieves and their ground-breaking Bandit wine in a small box and chalk up another win to the folks at Oregon’s King Estate (reviews of their other wines), who created this Washington State-based project, North by Northwest. These guys have the chutzpah to do things differently.
Read more: Wine review: North by Northwest 2010 Riesling Horse Heaven Hills
My first life experiences with wine were in the upper reaches of New York State, during college. I lived on campus my senior year at Colgate University (my alma mater), living in the French-speaking-only (yea, right) La Maison Franςaise in an attempt to better my oral skills for culinary school the following year in Switzerland. Throughout the year, I didn’t learn much French but Stephanie, the live-in grad student from Dijon, France and I had a good ‘ole time exploring the wineries in the Finger Lakes region. Fond memories, all of them. And I created new ones this past week.
Read more: Finger Lakes Rieslings: The new wine frontier?
King Estate specializes in Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and that’s what I’ve been sipping on these past eight years since I met them. Still family-owned — like most wineries in Oregon — they’ve expanded their horizons with their other, more affordable (and still tasty) Acrobat Pinot Noir and Gris. I really admire what these guys have been doing.
Read more: Wine reviews: King Estate 2009 Domaine Pinot Gris and 2008 Pinot Noir
The tasty Climber Chardonnay is part jumbo juicebox, part boxed wine. The pouch houses 2 bottles of wine with 90% less waste than glass. And… it’s quite drinkable. Even tasty. What’s more… it’s affordable and 1% of sales go towards Trees for the Future organization.
Read more: Wine review: The Climber Unoaked California Chardonnay in a pouch