The world of white
June 2, 2007
I had an interesting conversation with an old friend of mine recently. He is might I mention one of the most sophisticated people I have ever know and has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with wine. We were discussing the great value regions of the world when I realized that as long as I have known him I have never seen him drink a glass of white wine. When confronted with this great injustice to the world of wine he simply replied that he does not like white wine. Flabbergasted, I mentioned to him my favorite line, "There are only two kinds of wine, good wine and bad wine." I do in fact run into many people that share this sentiment, mostly men might I add, and I would like to encourage all of these people to leave their macho image behind and start enjoying the vast and fruitful journey through the great whites of the world. Not to mention the advantage of wide-open food pairings. Here are a few whites on the shelves in our great state that are sure to please even the most devout red wine drinker. Lets make believers out of you.
First let’s clear up one of the greatest misconceptions about a few grapes. Riesling and Gewurztraminer are not always sweet. In fact, I have found the dry versions from Alsace and parts of Germany to have more intensity, body, and complexity than almost any wine on the market. Domaine Weinbach is the best house available in our market. The ’05 Weinbach Cuvee Theo Riesling for $34.15 is one of my favorite wines on the shelves. Its rich and spicy character mixed with impeccable balance and bright fresh acid make this wine a perfect match for oily and heavy fish. We used to have my favorite producer in Alsace in the state, Zind-Humbrecht but somehow it did not make it past Brett, our Utah wine selector this year.
Some of the richest and most powerful whites in the world come from a few grape varieties that most of us have never heard of, Marsanne and Roussanne. These fine grapes hail from the Southern Rhone and thrive in hot climatic conditions and rocky soils. The ’04 Coudelet de Beaucastel Blanc is rich with flavors of almonds, figs, and hazelnuts and has a finish as long and complex as any bug red in the market. For $18.75 you can get the ’05 Qupe Marsanne from California that is full of lime, almonds, and vanilla.
There is then of course the infamous white Burgundy. These wines stand at the pinnacle of the great dry whites of the world made from 100% chardonnay grapes and have as much depth and character of any wine in the world, red or white. I would recommend skipping the cheaper versions that use the word Chardonnay. They are created for the American market and resemble the over oaked and lackluster character of mediocre Napa Chard. The great ones come in the form of regionally named wines of the appellations of Burgundy. I have a particular attachment to the wines of Vincent Girardin whose wines are rich and opulent. Louis Jadot and Joseph Drouhin are other negociant worth trusting. The ’04 Girardin Santenay 1er is a great buy at $30 that has all the creamy and rich textures of great white Burgundy for half the price. The ’04 Drouhin Meursault is another one of my favs coming in at around $40 that is crisp bright and balanced. So remember guys, white wines are not only great, but also they show your sensitive side as well. Chicks dig that kind of thing.
Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in N.Y.C. and he tries his very best not to spill the Pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments he is easily contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .