As sommeliers go ever-farther afield in their search for brisk, mineral-driven whites that blossom with food, they may overlook mainstream wines that are likely be more palatable to the great majority of restaurant diners. And these crowd-pleasing wines are not necessarily more expensive. Unoaked Loire Valley sauvignon blanc is one obvious category. Another clear choice is Chablis, which routinely costs half as much as comparable chardonnays from Burgundy’s best addresses on the Côte de Beaune. READ MORE »
What is your staple white wine at home—or at your restaurant(s) this summer? What do you like about it and how are you using it?
Arthur Hon, Beverage Director, Sepia (Chicago). Niepoort Dry White Port. My staple whites at home this summer are from Portugal. My favorite, in particular, is a white from the Douro Valley: the 2011 Muxagat Branco Mux. The wine’s precise minerality and bright but round acidity really draw me in. Aside from that, Mux also has some body to it that makes it really versatile when it comes to food and wine pairings; it’s also a great middle-of-the-road white that can easily be a crowd-pleaser. I like to use it in the place of chardonnay. The overall flavors of Mux are on the more neutral side; the extended aging on the lees gives Mux a sexy texture. The most exciting character of Mux is the delightful salinity that lingers on the finish. READ MORE »
Australia has long been known for producing red wines that deliver outstanding value. But many wine lovers have stereotyped Australia’s white wines as heavy and oaky. In days past they were mostly right, at least based on what was available here in the United States. But that’s starting to change, thanks to the increasing availability of graceful, lively white wines from Australia’s cooler, often high-altitude vineyards. Happily, in most cases pricing is extremely gentle—and sometimes insanely cheap—given the quality delivered. READ MORE »
Why should you care? Since 1999, the collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Bob Bertheau and renowned Mosel winemaker Ernie Loosen has yielded a consistently excellent, just off-dry riesling that beautifully combines generous citrus and orchard fruit flavors with the enlivening acidity and firm minerality most riesling lovers associate with Germany. The newest addition (“Gold”) to the Eroica line-up turns up the volume and focus on the basic riesling with a bit of noble rot, delivering more sweetness, acidity, complexity and concentration for just a few extra dollars.
What does it taste like? The 2012 Eroica Gold Riesling Columbia Valley offers kaleidoscopic scents of pineapple, orange peel, lime, ginger and spearmint oil, plus a petrol note that is pure German riesling. On the palate it’s moderately sweet and utterly seamless, with highly complex flavors of orange marmalade, lemon, lime, essential oils and cumin. Thanks to bracing acidity, this very suave riesling comes across as penetrating and not at all thick, and the finish boasts terrific energy and lift. I was shocked to learn that this wine carries a substantial 75 grams per liter of acidity—and equally stunned by the extremely reasonable price.
How much does it cost? $30