Get off the common path and explore flavours
If I were inclined to take the well-trodden path, I would suggest that we just stock sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio and chardonnay when it comes to white wine, as it would probably cover 90 per cent of our customer demand.
We do not limit ourselves to this as there are so many absolutely delicious alternatives that we really all should try from time to time.
Pine Ridge Winery, situated just off the iconic Silverado Trail that runs along the eastern side of Napa Valley is, of course, known for their cabernet sauvignon. Some time ago they made the rather brave decision to create a unique white blend that consists of 80 per cent chenin blanc and 20 per cent viognier. At 145,000 cases a year, it is now by far their most asked for wine. Its unique tapestry of flavours and aromas are elegant and easy to enjoy as the fragrances of jasmine and honeyed pears blend with tropical fruits that unleash pineapple and zesty citrus.
Most years earn scores of 90/100 or slightly above. Robert Parker gives the Pine Ridge 2014 Chenin Blanc — Viognier a 90/100 and says: “A consistent big-time winner in the value sweepstakes — beautiful purity, texture and a long finish that offers what consumers love.” $20.75.
As our mind should be on sailing at this time I do have to mention “the official wine for sailors”. Dry Creek Vineyards was selected as the official wine of the America's Cup World Series event in New York and now Chicago. Beautiful sailing craft are featured on all their labels and, back in my sailing days, the founder of Dry Creek, David Stare, enjoyed our waters on board our family's Premier Cru that was built in the Loire Valley of France.
One reviewer referred to the Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2014 as “the best white wine value in California”; it is wonderfully reliable vintage after vintage. At first you will note aromatics of white peach, cantaloupe, melon and lavender. It is refreshing with great acidity and a mouthfeel light on its feet dancing across the palate with minerally undertones. This is the quintessential summer sipper. $16.50.
One writer, the Wine Curmudgeon, says that “a few years ago about the only people that knew about albarino were the ones who made it”. There is truth to this statement about this wine from the north of Spain in a subzone called Rias Baixas. The albarino grape has a rather mysterious origin but it is felt that centuries ago it mutated from the riesling of Germany's Mosel region.
Our Vionta 2014 Albarino is fruity on the nose with green apple, banana, kiwi and melon aromas. My first impression is of bright peach and a wonderful purity that is so refreshing. If you, as I think you should, enjoy Spanish wine, then this is their “in” white wine in 2016. $22.10.
Gerard Bertrand, who towers over one of average height, decided to produce the best wines in the Languedoc region of southern France at the end of his rugby career. And this he has done admirably. Take for instance his Viognier Reserve Speciale 2014 that is pale yellow in colour with intense aromas of white flowers. The palate is rich and lush with tropical fruits, dried apricots, hazelnuts and honey.
Top Canadian critic Natalie Maclean rates it 90/100 and comments: “A classic floral viognier from southern France by one of the best-known producers. Aromas of clementine, apple blossom and honeydew. Lemon zest and mouth-watering on the palate. Medium- to full-bodied, intense and lovely. Great for Asian fare.” $16.60.
As it is the season to enjoy crisp, bright, clean and very interesting whites, why not try one or more of these, as I feel quite comfortable thinking that you will be pleased. Your friends will also appreciate your sense of adventure as you stand apart from the crowd.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm