Temperatures are hitting the eighties here in Sonoma County and my hands are reaching for some chilled white wines (and rosés, but that’s another column). They seem to go down smoother and easier than the lonely, almost dusty Cabernets and Syrahs in the wine rack. And with more and more thirsty folks branching out from their normal white wine routine, I thought it appropriate to introduce a couple of other soft, aromatic, mouth-watering whites.
Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas Blanc 2011
With grapes hailing from the Rhône region of France, it seems fitting that Tablas Creek have a little fun with the name of this ripe, delicious white blend. Côtes du Rhône is the name for umpteen red and white blends originating from the southern nethers of France, which are mostly tasty, approachable and decidedly drinkable. Paso Robles, where Tablas Creek calls home, is a warmer-climate wine region, growing heartier grapes that can handle the heat (but not too much), resembling the Rhône Valley (read more about Paso Robles here). Their Côtes de Tablas 2011 Blanc is lushly floral with Viognier (27%), medium-bodied and crisp with Grenache Blanc (26%), earthy and herby chamomile from Roussanne (25%, and pear fruity from the Marsanne (22%). Well-balanced with a strong swath of acidity, the juicy flavors wash over the tongue on their way to an elegant, snappy finish. Quite spectacular.
Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Price: $20 – $27
Occasion: Tasted at Rhone Rangers event. Which might be coming to a city near you.
Availability: Independent wine shops and on upscale wine lists.
Food pairing: Mussels, Ginger Chicken, Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Asian Lettuce Wraps. More recipes on the Tablas Creek website.
David Hill 2011 Pinot Gris Willamette
Now on to a smaller estate winery based in Oregon: David Hill. Named for its location and not a family name, plenty of grape growing history surrounds this family-owned vineyard in the Willamette Valley south of Portland, Oregon. They boast the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the region and their tasting room is housed in the 1883 home of the Reuter family who first nourished the fruit and made wine in that location. A relative of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris is the darling of many an Oregon producer (more on Oregon’s Pinot Gris scene). I find them absolutely stunning paired with summer and its variety of food. The David Hill 2011 Pinot Gris has the smooth fruit of apricots and peaches with the minerality and lively acidity of wet slate, lime and lime rind. It strikes harmony between tartnes and juiciness and, if you’re not careful, the whole bottle could disappear before you know it. True story… happened to me.
Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Occasion: Sample sent from the winery.
Availability: Mostly direct sales on their website but they have some distribution to retailers.
Food pairing: Anything with a little bit of spiciness to it like Indian, Thai or Vietnamese. Definitely sushi.