Young, Fresh And Crispy Wines
Wednesday - July 27, 2011
Young, fresh and crispy. That was the description one of my fellow Master Sommeliers had for a bunch of our younger cohorts during one of our trips to Australia. I like the phrase so much I use it quite often, but refer mostly to the whites that so often show up on tables during summer and hotter weather. No risk of the repetitive Sauvignons Blanc, Pinot Grigio and some Chardonnays here.
Aligote is an esoteric grape we find in Burgundy, the home of Chardonnay. It grows in a small enclave of vineyards around the town of Bouzeron. Total acreage is a minuscule 300 acres. The soil is a clay limestone, not completely dissimilar from that found in the Cote d’or in much more famous vineyards such as Meursault or St Aubin. However, the exposure and microclimate would never be mistaken for being “grand.” The wines are always crisp, never fat or flabby. The best of them have a lovely minerality and citrus flavor that are satisfying and complex.
My personal favorite and admired by many of the growers in the region is made by A&P de Villaine. The estate uses organics in growing the grapes and the wines are as naturally made as possible. The 2009 vintage may be the best they have ever made.
Albarino may be one you have already heard of. Its crispy greenness is something akin to Riesling, but definitely no sweetness. Spain’s Rias Baixas is its traditional home. The area is mainly a river delta with plenty of gravelly, silty soils which lend themselves to the wine in a wet stone character. Some top producers include Condesa Eylo, Pazo de Barrantes, Vionta and Martin Codax. If you want it on the crispier edge, try the Vionta version. If you like a little more body, go for the Condesa Eylo.
Malvasia is another cooling white. This is found traditionally in the north of Italy. It makes a wonderfully aromatic and light white with melons and citrus flowers.
Unfortunately, there are not many imported from Italy. Lucky for us there is a small outpost of Malvasia grown in cool climate vineyards in Southern California, more specifically in the Santa Maria Valley, and Steve and Chrystal Clifton of Palmina Wines make a lovely example replete with the white floral scents and grapefruit.
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