Just what is in a colour description?
August 4 of each year is designated “World White Wine Day”, and although I am a little slow off the mark, I would like to suggest a few off the beaten path today.
First I must confess that even after 45 years in this trade I am still puzzled by this classification; why do we refer to it as “white”?
We all know that it is straw-yellow, but then yellow can be associated with envy, cowardice and other unsavoury thoughts.
At tastings of such wines I have been known to hold the white-tasting information sheet against my arm and comment that I am thankfully not “white”.
In fact, “tastings” is another irritation for me as we can only taste five things.
For many years I went along with the common belief that humans can detect about 10,000 smells, but the latest research shows an ability for over one trillion!
I am all for wine “smellings”, but here is another word that is often not taken in a complementary way.
In a perfect world I would conduct “Straw-Yellow Wine Smellings”.
At my last visit to Vinitaly, I joined a quarter of a million wine lovers and a few thousand producers.
Among my top-five favourite wineries was Donnafugata (“woman in flight”) from Sicily, as everything that they offer is delightful.
Joy and happiness is the meaning of prio in the Sicilian dialect.
Donnafugata “Prio” 2018 shows on its artistic label the unexpected and authentic joy of a woman, sitting on a beach at sunset on a day in early summer, sweetly kissed by a butterfly that lands on her face.
It is a lively and sensual label and indeed they are all artistic and lovely from these folks.
The wine has an attractive aroma, in which notes of citrus, in particular pink grapefruit, intertwined with floral tones of orange colour and nuances of Mediterranean herbs.
This winery specialises in historic indigenous grapes and here we can experience Catarratto. $20.95. Stock #8778.
Grillo is an ancient autochthonous Sicilian grape variety, but the Donnafugata wine name is also a cute little insect (the cricket) that brings good luck.
The name sur sur, that means cricket, comes from the classical Arabic language which was once also spoken in Sicily. The voice of spring, with its scents and colours, is depicted on the label.
It shows Gabriella — founder of Donnafugata, with her husband, Giacomo — as a girl in flight, running barefoot through the flowers and fresh grass, following the singing of crickets that sounds sweet to her ears, like a thousand “Sur Sur”.
The Wine Enthusiast magazine rated our Donnafugata “Sur Sur” 2018 91/100 and wrote, “loaded with fragrance, flavour and finesse, this savoury white pushes all the right buttons, starting with inviting aromas of tropical fruit, citrus and white spring flowers.
“The fresh, medium-bodied palate doles out honeydew, Meyer lemon and Mediterranean herb alongside crisp acidity and a hint of saline”.
Even more they included it on their “Top 100 Wines of 2019” list. Another beauty for $25.60. Stock #8764.
A goddess-volcano stands out on the Donnafugata 2017 Etna Bianco “Sul Vulcano” label and its intense colours, red, yellow, iridescent blacks, are those of the highest active volcano in Europe.
An ancient, powerful and feminine deity: “the Mountain” as Etna is called by the locals.
“Sul Vulcano” is a declaration of love: a pure wine with a marked minerality that makes you breathe the energy of this unique place located in the centre of the Mediterranean.
This wine presents a straw-yellow colour with golden reflections and a nose of golden apples, citrus and Mediterranean herbs followed by flinty, mineral notes and great elegance and complexity. $34.50. Stock #8769.
Now we travel all the way to Piedmont and visit with Pio Boffa who heads up the winery started by his grandfather in 1885.
He is renowned for his classic Barolo, but his work with the Cortese grape makes for a wonderful Gavi.
James Suckling gives his 2018 Pio Cesare Gavi 91/100 and comments, “always an outstanding Gavi with lemon, pear and citrus aromas. Medium body, creamy and fresh”.
I will always remember asking Pio why he does not produce a “Gavi di Gavi” and he asked me if I knew the difference?
When I replied in the negative, he gave a simple answer which is not printable in this fine newspaper, so I will just shorten it to “BS”.
He felt that he could create a far better wine by not having any geographical limitations. $31.50. Stock #9157.
We finish by travelling to the northeast corner of Italy to sample from an iconic producer of white wines. Jermann 2018 Pinot Bianco (pronounced “yer-man”) shows a delicately flowery and slightly mineral nose. The palate is medium-bodied, dry, and with a very good, rounded mouth feel.
Elements of minerals, stones, peaches and pears are woven together with balancing, crisp acidity.
The finish is lengthy and elegant. $34.95. Stock #9018.
As I have a little space left on my word count let me share a true and favourite “white wine” story.
The year is about 1980 and my wife and I are sitting in a sports bar in northern Wisconsin. “May I have a glass of white wine” I ask.
In all sincerity the young lady behind the bar informs me that she does not have any.
One must remember that in those days it was common to ask for “Chablis” or “Rhine” and so on.
She correctly told me that “milk is white” and she had no wine that looked like that! How times have changed.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Written by Michael Robinson for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm
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