Up for an Adventure? It doesn’t always require a full-fledged quest like a dive into the Great Barrier Reef or a climb up Mount Everest to satisfy the explorer in us. We can embrace our adventurous nature every day, and one of the most thrilling and satisfying ways is via the palate. So today Vine & Table is going to take you on a Wine Safari – and as your guide we’ll take you places to share an experience you’d never encounter down the grocery isle. We’ll start in Sonoma County, California. ‘Why here?’, because many of you are already HUGE fans of our first wine and wine style.
California has a real winner of a wine that has a HUGE following: Lioco Chardonnay 2010. This wine has come into its own after vintners adapted wine making techniques to the terroir, and not vice versa. California’s most widely planted grape is Chardonnay and in the past, Burgundian techniques have been the rule and usually included extensive oak aging resulting in creamy, buttery wines. Although oaky and buttery is a wonderful style, it bucks the current trend towards more crisp chardonnays that minimize barrel aging and malolactic fermentation. Lioco Chardonnay sets the standard for the type of Chardonnay people are turning to right now. It is very lightly oaked with a core of lemon citrus and chalky mineral notes. Add to that the complexity of orchard notes and miso paste, and you have a dry wine that might be “the most ‘complete’ So-Co to date”. We know it has HUGE appeal right now and for many of you this is your go-to wine.
Now, for the adventure we promised; and time to get out of the sanctuary and venture into the wild lands our wine safari… if you like Lioco Chardonnay, you will LOVE these three wines that are similar in style to the Lioco, but have an exotic twist. They all have a golden lively lemon note; they are refreshing and crisp. Their interaction on the palate is exhilarating and the dusty mineral notes bring the beauty of their land right to your table.
Feudi di San Gregorio Grec di Tufo 2011 – This dynamic winery is sought out for its production of the Greco di Tufo grape. The grape is originally from Greece, but has been cultivated for over 2000 years in Southern Italy’s Campania region and produces one of the few white DOCG wines in Italy. The chalky soil of Campania is evident in the wine, which combines a beautiful structure with pleasant mineral notes and a perfumed bouquet of ripe apricots, apples, fern and mint. The producer has cultivated a harmonious and lively wine that pairs famously with fish and pasta dishes.
How many of you have been up close and persona l with the Macabeo grape? Our second rarity is Sierra Norte Ossiam Macabeo-Sauvignon Blanc 2011, an 80% Macabeo and 20% Sauvignon Blanc blend from Spain. The grape is dry, medium in acidity, and has notes of delicate wildflowers and bitter almonds. It is often used in the production of Cava. This particular Macaob-Sauv blend is made from organically grown grapes and has a clarity and incisive finish that is simply primal. The flavors of lime, lemongrass and white pepper produce a rhythmic dance on the tongue that will not leave you wanting. Pair this wine with Mediterranean salads, raw shellfish and even creamy vegetable dishes.
Our next palatial experience is for the uninhibited. It is a wine made from a grape that was brought back from extinction and is indigenous to the special microclimate and pedologic conditions of the Marche region of Italy’s Central coast. Velenosi Pecorino Villa Angela 2011 is made from the little-known Pecorino grape. The origin of the name is unclear, but is thought that the grape variety was a favorite snack of the sheep (whose milk was used to make Pecorino cheese) that were driven through vineyards. The Pecorino grape prefers a cool, high-altitude climate, ripens early and has low yields. In the hands of this producer it creates a wine that is pleasantly intense with refined aromas of exotic fruit, citrus fruits, acacia, jasmine flowers, balsamic herbs, hawthorn and banana, mixed with other new, unusual and original sensations. If you are used to sipping more mainstream wines, the mixture of fruit, crispness and minerality might surprise you. Not to mention the simultaneous combination of acid taste, fresh and sweet. What to pair with this unusual species? The round fruit on the palate complements rich salads, Asian-inspired dishes and a host of chicken entrees; combinations that will appeal to even the most discerning palate.
There you have it! You started with a wine you loved then ventured outside of the usual and discovered remote places in the world offering exotic wines you may never have heard of before. Wines that are the perfect foil to the summer heat and that will satisfy your white wine craving all summer long. Now take what you’ve learned, venture out and perhaps impress your friends while you’re at it.