Over the weekend, I jumped in a car with some friends and hightailed it to Napa Valley, where we enjoyed brunch at Thomas Keller's casual family restaurant, ad hoc. With full stomachs, we headed up Highway 29 to Rutherford to hit up some wineries. Visiting Napa wineries isn't unlike barhopping; the experience depends more on the tasting room staff and the crowd than it does the actual wine. After one underwhelming winery stop, we pulled into St. Supéry, which makes some of the best Sauvignon Blanc around. That's when our fate changed. Ryan, the expert pouring our wines, took turns cracking jokes and recommending interesting wines — including a Petit Verdot, a varietal usually reserved for blending. When he asked if we'd want to try his favorite, how could we resist? The 2008 Chardonnay, sold only at the winery, lived up to his hype. It smelled exactly like bananas on the nose, with a creamy, lush mouth feel. I loved it so much, I took one home for the road. Have you had a similar experience while wine tasting? Share it with us below!
I'm expanding my wine knowledge in 2010. This means trying new kinds of grapes, as well becoming more familiar with European wines. Recently I got to know Vermentino, a white grape grown in Corsica, Sardinia, and coastal Italy and France. The dry white wine is like a cross between Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. It has the floral, fruity bouquet characteristic of Viognier and the tart finish found in many Sauvignon Blancs.
I wasn't able to locate more bottles of the Calasole online, but while dining at La Ciccia, a local Sardinian restaurant, I spotted a Vermentino on the wine list. Its acidity paired well with my fregola-and-pecorino dish, cutting through the fat and creaminess. Tonight, I'm dropping by a local wine shop in search of Vermentino. I can't get enough of it. Have you recently fallen for a new wine variety?
If you've never tried Portugal's most famous white, Vinho Verde, I suggest you sample Quinta da Aveleda's 2008 Vinho Verde. Literally translated, Vinho Verde means "green wine," but the name doesn't refer to the grapes, rather the fact that the wine is consumed young.
Voted one of Wine & Spirits top 100 wines of 2009, the Quinta da Aveleda is a lush slightly effervescent white that has a pale amber color and crisp finish. Its fruity and mildly grassy taste would pair wonderfully with seafood. At just $7.99 a bottle the price is right for experimenting with a new wine and unfamiliar region.
Have you sipped Vinho Verde? What did you think?
I ate plenty of thick-skinned, giant pomelos in my youth, but it wasn't until Aspen this Summer that I had my first taste of Pomelo wine. Ever since, the refreshing white has been my go-to everyday Sauvignon Blanc.
Produced by California's Mason Cellars, Pomelo is made entirely out of Sauvignon Blanc grapes — but with its effervescent, citrus-peel aromas and pineapple flavors, the wine could've fooled me into thinking it had real fruit.
My favorite part? At $10 a bottle, I never have to think twice about picking up as many bottles as I want at my neighborhood wine store. Have you ever tried Pomelo? What other Sauvignon Blancs do you prize for their extreme value?
Generally speaking, I love red wines as much as whites, but summertime is the one season when I have a preference for white wine. Few things surpass the gratification of sipping a smooth, crisp, cool white while basking under the warm sunshine.
St. Supéry's 2008 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($18) is exactly what I'm talking about. Perfect for pairing with picnic foods like roasted beet salad, grilled vegetable muffalettas, or provoleta, this pale, straw-colored Sauvignon Blanc has notes of lime, grass, tropical fruits, and pear. It ends with a tart, clean finish.
Do you find yourself drinking more Sauvignon Blanc during warm weather? Have you ever tried St. Supéry's version?
An American wine term, Fumé Blanc is synonymous with the wine varietal Sauvignon Blanc.
The name was first coined in 1968 by winemaker Robert Mondavi, who made Sauvignon Blanc inspired by a Pouilly-Fumé he'd tasted from France's Loire Valley. Looking to differentiate his wine from the sweet-style Sauvignon Blancs in the US, Mondavi changed the name on his label. Rather than copyrighting the name, Mondavi allowed anyone to use Fumé Blanc to market dry-style Sauvignon Blanc.
Fumé Blanc, which often has notes of tart fruit, pairs well with creamy cheeses and fish, and is best drunk young.