Summer’s here and the time is right for… White wine!
Now that the weather has heated up it is time to enjoy those cool whites on the patio or deck.
Some of my favorite white wines are from the Niagara Peninsula (there are over fifty wineries there now) and one of the things I enjoyed most about living in Canada was the ability to spend a day visiting the various wineries, eating a slow lunch and looking out on the vineyards in the Peninsula.
My favorite white is a Jackson Triggs Chardonnay from their Delaine Vineyard, and I brought a case of the ’06 back from my last visit. The ’06 is a little young and needs a couple of years in the bottle. The ’04 however is a beautiful wine with elegant balance and flavors of honeysuckle, butter, and slight acidy. It is not over-oaked and is simply delightful.
For those of you who do not have access to the Canadian whites, there are two very good Chard’s that are also quite reasonable.
Chateau Ste. Michelle from Washington State makes a very drinkable Chardonnay for around $12. It is slightly over-oaked, and has the big butter taste that dominates on the pallet, but I prefer this style so I enjoy this bargain.
The other very inexpensive white is from Kendall Jackson. This is another simple yet excellent Chardonnay that is easy to enjoy for the price. This is slightly less oakey and buttery than the Ch. Ste. Michelle – for those of you that prefer that style – and it is missing the balance of the Jackson-Triggs.
Of course the best white I’ve had recently is the 2003 Vouvray Moelleux that we brought in as part of B&B’s French Wine Club. For those members who have been keeping this in your cellar, now is the time to enjoy it. This wine has wonderful flavors of sweet citrus in great balance and complexity. The Moelleux is the sweeter version of Vouvray and is not made in every vintage. I have never seen it available in any American store, so enjoy your allotment, but sparingly.
I attended a Yankees game in New York a couple of weeks ago and the two high school kids in front of us started talking to us during the game. In the process we discovered that one of the kids’ father was part owner of a French restaurant in Manhattan. We visited Orsay after the game and it was fabulous – a bit of Paris in NYC – with an outstanding wine list. We ordered the reasonably priced 2001 Ch. Clarke to go with our duck and was impressed that the waiter really knew how to handle a good bottle of wine. I had visited Ch. Clarke in 1999 and was mostly unimpressed by the wines at that time. I knew they were making changes to upgrade the wine, and this is positive proof that they have succeeded. The wine was absolutely beautiful with great complexity and soft tannins, I was still tasting it the next day. I has subdued barnyard, which doesn’t overpower the fruit yet keeps it from being a “one dimensional fruit bomb.” If you can find this wine it will be well worth it.
The 2000 vintage from Bordeaux is getting close to being ready to drink. I bought a bottle of 2000 Ch. Laroque from St. Emillion at the state store in Pennsylvania to see if the vintage was living up to its hype. The wine is deep purple in color, dense across the pallet with flavors of black cherry, fig and hints of smoke. I loved this wine and while a little pricy ($35) it is worth it.
I’ve gotten several calls recently asking me to recommend an inexpensive Bordeaux. My favorite under $20 Bordeaux is Chateau Greysac. They make a consistently good wine that is more interesting than any other wines at the same price point. This is the wine I often take to gatherings when I want to introduce people to Bordeaux.
2000 Chateau Bois Malot – 2000 was an outstanding vintage in Bordeaux, so even producers at the lower end of the price scale have made some great wines. While this wine won’t make anyone’s top ten, it is a great value for $11. There is good fruit and oak balance and the wine is more interesting than many costing more.
In the under $10 category, I buy Mouton Cadet by the case. You get what you pay for in the wine world, but this is quite drinkable for the money. Don’t expect greatness, but you can drink a glass of this every night (for your heart, of course) and not feel like you are breaking the bank.