Wednesday November 1, 2017
The Times-Tribune, Dave Falcheck
Even as the weather cools and the air gets a bite to it, we don’t need to abandon white wines just yet.
Now is the time to reach for heavier, richer and spicier white wines as the leaves start to drop.
White grapes that originate in Rhône — such as the trinity of marsanne, roussanne and viognier — tend to make richer wines whose texture comes from the grape rather than oak aging.
Blindfold 2015 California White Wine offers a kitchen-sink blend of fall-ready grapes — chardonnay, roussanne, viognier, grenache blanc, marsanne and chenin blanc — and offers a viscous mouthful of baked apple and spice with a round texture and ripe finish. The wine shows a bit of creaminess and sweet oak from aging. $32.
A perennial favorite of mine is Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc. Made from a grape that is a mutation of the red grenache, Priest Ranch Napa Valley 2016 Grenache Blanc is a complete package with smells of starfruit, a rich texture and tropical notes. Yet, it manages to pull off a clean finish that crackles like dried leaves. Sadly, there are only a few of these left in the Pennsylvania system in an older vintage. $12. 1/2
I tried going back to Rhône for a deal but came up empty-handed. Cave de Tain Première Note Marsanne is dry and unfocused, with elementary tree fruit character and acidic finish for an anonymous, dry white wine. $12.
You would do better with another selection, such as a blend or Côte du Rhône Villages Blanc to try these grapes at the source.
Fall is the best time to enjoy a style of wine I usually avoid: oaky chardonnay. Substitute your pumpkin spice with oak spice in a wine such as Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury 2015 Chardonnay, which is fermented and aged in oak but in way that doesn’t result in a woody wine. The fruit in this New Zealand wine is so loaded with apple and nectarine character that it stands up to the buttery notes and oak spice. It almost tastes like a mulled wine. Even when it is cold, it tastes warm. $15.
Other suggestions for fall favorites include the off-dry Vouvray, made with fall-friendly grape chenin blanc. German wines that lean sweeter, such as riesling or sylvaner, are great this time of year by themselves.
DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week. Link to article here.