La Vielle Ferme Blanc 2014

Some time ago I shared a little story of my sojourns through France when I was a young boy.  In that instance, we had stopped on the south coast of France (Mediterranean) and spent a day at the beach.  At the time, we were living in Germany, so that was not the only trip we made into France. We also made our way to Paris.

Although I was only 6 years old at the time.  Paris left a lasting mark on my soul.  While my father did his best to herd the family from museum to museum, some of the most vivid memories are from the city itself.  For instance, I was fascinated by the hotel we stayed in because it wasn’t at all like the American hotels and motels we had stayed in.  It was a small pension hotel in a bustling residential neighborhood.  Not far from our hotel, there was an outdoor market where people where produce of every kind straight from the farm was available.  We bought some cherries at the market that I can still taste by memory today.  They were SO amazing.  And although I was very impressed with the art works in the Louvre, I found the Arc de Triomphe infinitely more appealing.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since that trip.  Yup, more travel for my bucket list.  I really would like to experience the City of Light as an adult.  Know what I mean?  I didn’t have a single sip of wine when I was in Paris last!

Oenophilogical_LaVielleFermeBlanc2014Winemaker: La Vieille Ferme
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: France
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods

Notes: This French white was medium yellow in color with lots of yellow (golden delicous) apple along with citrus notes in the nose.  Acidity was good in this medium-bodied blend which had a slight coat-the-tongue quotient.  Flavors I detected were kiwi, cream, and hints of toasty oak.  I liked it.  I have had other vintages that I didn’t enjoy as well, but this bottle was fine by me.

Les Sorcières Côtes Catalanes 2014

Isn’t it nice when a friend decides to share their own wine likes with you?  Those discussions with your peeps about a recent discovery can just be the best!  Even better when a generous friend decides you need to try something so much that they put a bottle of it in your hands!  That’s what happened with this Les Sorcières white.  It was a gift from a friend.  Thus, I don’t have price data, but I do have the info my taste buds collected.

Vineyard: Clos des Fées
Wine:  Les Sorcières
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: 2014
Appellation: Côtes Catalanes, France IGP

Notes:   Clos des Fées used 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Vermentino, 20% Roussanne, and 10% Macabeu grapes to produce this selection.  Light yellow in the glass, this sorceress had a very faint bouquet of citrus and summer flowers.  It was light-bodied with good acidity.  Alcohol was at 12.5%.  Flavors I found were citrus, a touch of pineapple, and lemongrass at the finish.  Perfect to go with a light white fish in my opinion.  Thank you, Steve!

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde

Have I got some catching up to do!  Although the weather here in my area is turning frosty and gray, I drank this light white blend while it was still fairly warm.  Better late than never, I suppose.

Winemaker:  Aveleda Vinhos S.A.
Wine:  Casa Garcia Vinho Verde
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal
Price:  $6.49 at Total Wine

Notes:  The color of this wine was a pale citron.  In the bouquet I detected gentle scents of tart peach.  It was light-bodied with the expected fizz (which settles quickly).  Alcohol was at 10%, and acidity was good.  On the tongue I caught flavors of peach, citrus and a light floral note.  Remembering the experience as I type this post makes me imagine myself sipping it once more … on a sweltering tropical beach.  Not to worry, though, it will be sweltering here again soon enough.

Ménage à Trois White 2013

As no doubt you are aware, a Ménage à Trois is basically a love triangle.  Folie à Deux, on the other hand, is a delusion or madness shared by two persons who are closely associated.  So, are the folks at Folie à Deux winery suggesting that their involvement in winemaking is a shared delusion and that their relationship with their wines is, in fact, a love triangle?  If so, I love it!  And the fact that this white blend is composed of 3 grape varietals – Chardonnay, Muscat, and Chenin Blanc – carries the metaphor one step further.  Even better!

Vineyard: Ménage à Trois by Folie à Deux
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: California
Price: $17.49

Notes:   The color of this California blend was a pale straw hue.  The bouquet held scents of peach and grass.  Acidity seemed good, and I thought heft on the palate was on the cusp of medium and light.  Alcohol was 13.5%.  As far as taste was concerned, I found flavors of peach, bitter orange and grass with warm spice notes.  It was a decent, fairly uncomplicated blend and surprisingly dry for a wine containing both Muscat and Chenin Blanc as well as Chardonnay.  Have you had this wine before?  If so, I’d like to know what your thoughts are on food pairings.  I just opened the bottle and sipped it as my little reward for a long day at work.

Pancake Cellars – Big Day White 2012

What an interesting name to choose – Pancake Cellars.  And that label!  The giant anthropomorphized flapjack* hearkens back to the over-the-top marketing of the 1950’s when icons like the Jolly Green Giant and Kool-Aid Pitcher Man (later to become Kool-Aid Man) roamed our billboards and TVs.  I appreciate very much that some winemakers – especially those who are working at less expensive price points – recognize many folks want to have fun and drink wine at the same time.  Let’s face it; anyone who is purchasing a white blend at this price is not expecting to have a religious experience when they sip it.  This is not the wine of formal dining rooms with crystal goblets, white table linens, and utensils laid out in a tightly-regimented pattern around dinner plates.  Thanks primarily to the humorous label, I was definitely of a mind to have a good time when I opened this bottle.

Winemaker:   Pancake Cellars
Wine: Big Day White
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Paso Robles, CA
Price: $5.99 at Trader Joes

Notes:  According to the label this California white was made from 37% Chardonnay, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Vioigier, 15% Pinot Blanc, and 10% Muscat Canelli.  As I poured this inexpensive blend into my glass, it’s color was a pretty, light lemon.  On the nose I caught whiffs of peach, melon and citrus.  Acidity was good, pricking the tongue lightly to give it a sense of gentle effervescence.  It was light-bodied with a slightly viscous mouth feel, and alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the palate I tasted peach, melon, citrus, some honey, and a bitter note on the finish which was reminiscent of citrus zest.  Unfortunately, that final note lingered sufficiently that it began to overwhelm the rest of the flavors as I sipped.  So the overall experience became mostly bitter rather than balanced between the zip of the finish and the fruit at the fore.  If you are looking for an inexpensive white with a zing in it’s step, this could be your blend.

* Or is that a grape?  Considering the shape and coloring, it could be either.  Maybe that’s by design. 

An Effervescent White For A Summer’s Night

According to the Vinho Verde official website, the main consumers of wines from this region are women under 40.  Well, I am not a part of that demographic, but I went ahead and bought this inexpensive bottle of white anyway.

This Espiral was only my second Vinho Verde experience.  My first was with the Twin Vines iteration of a white blend from this region by Fonseca.  Both have been enjoyable.  And while there were definite similarities in the Espiral and Twin Vines offerings, there were also distinct differences.  No doubt those differences stem at least in part from the choices made regarding the specific grapes and relative proportions used in blending the wines.

Winemaker:  Espiral
Wine:  Vinho Verde
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Vinho Verde, Portugal DOC
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The color of the Espiral was an extremely pale yellow.  On the nose I caught scents of grapefruit, copious grass, and a hint of almond.  As is the norm for these wines, it was frothy on the pour.  The wine was light-bodied, and the bubbles had surprising staying power.  (Those bubbles are evidently added carbonation which takes the place of effervescence that was historically present as a result of in-bottle malolactic fermentation.)  Acidity was bright and alcohol was at 9%.  You’d think with alcohol that low, the the wine would be distinctly sweet.  Not so.  On the palate it actually seemed fairly dry.  Perhaps the grape varietals used just don’t have that much sugar to begin with.  At any rate, this light Portuguese white had a pleasant flavor profile with a core of peach, citrus and grass accented by almond and floral notes.  I think it would make a nice aperitif for a summer dinner party – especially one on the patio or around the pool.

A Ruffino Vino From Umbria

This is only my second Orvieto Classico.  The first was the Gaetano D’Aquino Orvieto Classico 2012.  I have to say that they have both been quite light.  Which is to say that unless you insist on Chardonnay or a heavier-bodied white wine, the Orvietos seem a real possibility as a warm weather selection.

Winemaker:  Ruffino
Wine:  Orvieto Classico
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Orvieto DOC, Italy
Price:  $13.99

Notes:  The color of this Umbrian was an extremely pale yellow in the glass.  On the nose I detected scents of grass and citrus.  Acidity was good and slightly effervescent in it’s effect.  Light-bodied with a hint of viscosity, this Orvieto came in at 12% alcohol.  On the palate I found it to be again fairly light and straight-forward.   For me, there were flavors of lemon, pear and grass with just a tinge of chlorine as it neared the denouement.  I think it’s a fine white option for a summer refresher or with a light salad.

The Luck Of The Draw

Trying out a new grape varietal is always a draw for me when I’m perusing my local store shelves.  In this case, I saw that the majority of this white blend was made from the Italian grape Cortese.  Never having tasted a Cortese wine, I was willing to test my luck and gamble on a new wine experience.  After all, the stakes (ante up at $6.99) weren’t too bad.

Vineyard: Azienda Giribaldi
Wine:  Winemaker’s Selection White Blend
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: NV
Appellation: Italy
Price: $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:   This blended white is made from 80% Cortese and 20% Chardonnay.  At 11.5% alcohol, it was moving toward sweet yet didn’t strike my palate as heavy or syrupy.  The color was a very pale lemon yellow, acidity was OK, and the body was quite light.  On the nose I found primarily citrus with hints of peach and floral notes.  Flavors consisted of citrus once again, some peach, and a fleeting hint of butter with a biting, grassy finish that also echoed the floral notes (think wild flowers or daisies).  Honestly, I can’t say that I enjoyed this selection.  It didn’t taste like gasoline or road tar, but the balance of flavors across the palate didn’t create an extremely pleasant experience for me, either.

Even so, I’m not giving up on Cortese.  I may have had an off day.  This may have been an off bottling for Azienda Giribaldi.  I certainly can’t say that I lost anything, because I did get what I was looking for – a new wine experience.  If I didn’t find a selection to fall in love with on the first draw, well what are the odds?  So I’m undeterred and will keep my eyes open for another opportunity with the Cortese grape.  Who knows?  I could get lucky next time.

This post is an entry into the 8th Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC8).  Originated by The Drunken Cyclist, this month’s challenge – to write around the theme of “luck” – was issued by last month’s winner, The Sweet Sommelier.  Click on the MWWC logo at the top of this post to see details for this month’s challenge.

J.M Fonseca Twin Vines Vinho Verde

The Vinho Verde DOC is the largest wine producing region of Portugal and is located in the area known as Minho in the upper Northwest.  While this Twin Vines selection was a white wine (from green grapes, I thought?), the term Verde is meant to denote “young” rather than the color “green.”  As a result, it seems a Vinho Verde could be red, white or rosé.  And if I wasn’t confused enough by that …  According to the folks at Fonseca,  “Vinho Verde is made from one or a combination of twenty five different white grapes.  The best and most popular varieties are Alvarinho, Trajadura, Louriro and Pederña.”  The good people over at winesofportugal.com, on the other hand, indicate that the “Main white grapes (varying according to sub-region) [are] Alvarinho, Arinto Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura.”  They go on to say the “Main red grapes (varying according to sub-region) [are] Alvarelhão, Amaral, Borraçal, Espadeiro, Padeiro, Pedral, Rabo de Anho and Vinhão.”  Unfortunately, neither the bottle nor the Fonseca website indicates which grapes were used in this Twin Vines Vinho Verde.

Winemaker:  J.M. Fonseca
Wine:  Twin Vines Vinho Verde
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Vinho Verde, Portugal DOC
Price:  $7.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  The color of this Portuguese offering was a light lemon yellow.  On the nose I caught a faint scent of green apple with floral notes.  The body of this Fonseca white blend was light, acidity was good – balancing the residual sweetness nicely – and alcohol was at 10%.  On first pour, this Vinho Verde was characteristically very frothy and bubbly, although the effervescence quickly subsided.  On the tongue I tasted gentle flavors of green apple and sweet grapefruit.  As the wine traversed the palate it also brought a slight chalkiness.  On the finish I found grass, lingering grapefruit and a hint of cucumber.  This selection was a nice surprise for me.  Not being well versed in Portuguese wines, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Especially since, unlike previous iterations of Twin Vines, this was a non-vintage bottling.  And given the lack of specifics, I’m still not certain exactly what I had.   But that’s OK.  I guess it’ll remain one of life’s little mysteries …  unless someone out there can enlighten me.

La Bastarda Bianco di Toscana 2012

Here is a light, refreshing white blend from Tuscany by Renzo Masi.  I had this at the pub I’ve mentioned before where they have a lot of live music.  The establishment is called Iota Club & Cafe.  It’s a very popular spot in the local area and attracts a lot of fine musicians.  The club has very recently retooled it’s wine list, and this was a new addition.   I look forward to trying some of the other new items as well.  Although I did get some odd looks from a few folks who saw me drinking a light white wine in what is generally a beer-swigging joint, I lifted my wine glass with pride and confidence.  Of course, nobody but the bartender saw the label on the bottle!

Winemaker:   Il Bastardo by Renzo Masi
Wine:  La Bastarda Bianco di Toscana
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Toscana, Italy IGT
Price:  $7.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:   This Italian white blend was very pale yellow in the glass.  On the nose I caught floral scents and pear.  On the palate I found flavors of pear, peach, young honeydew melon, grass and peach pit.    The finish is extremely quick, ending with what I can only describe as a sip from a mountain stream – you know, cool water with a slight mineral taste to it.  It was light bodied, acidity is good, and alcohol is at 12.5%.   The mix of grapes here is 70% Trebbiano and 30% Chardonnay.  I think it’s a nice, light, brisk summer cooler.  Actually it’s a lot like a wine cooler.  And this is one to definitely serve chilled.  As it warmed to room temperature it developed a chalkiness that became a little distracting.  So ice it down, and serve it up.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.