Selections for September 2016

A grape that’s catchin’ on around here


We’re carrying more and more Vermentinos (“Vermentini”?) lately, seeing how they resonate with the local palate.  I.e.: You get it.  When oaky / buttery Chardonnay is too ponderous for the weather or the meal at hand, Vermentino is a very useful alternative.  A little more ample than most Pinot Grigios and usually more complex, we have yet to meet a naysayer to whom we’ve promoted it.

The grape happens especially on the island of Sardegna and on the Italian mainland in Tuscany.  You’ll also find it in Provence where it goes by the name “Rolle”.  The Sardinian examples can be more nervy with a sea air brineyness, wonderfully agitating the palate and inducing an urgent need for little oily fishies, quickly fried and swiftly delivered to table.  By contrast, Tuscan Vermentino is a little more easygoing with stone fruit and melon flavors, delivered with a rounder mouthfeel. 

Before you stands a bottle which somewhat contradicts what I just said about Tuscan Vermentino.  This Sanguinetti is a bit more racy than most, and I imagine the 5% Sauvignon Blanc contribution is why.  Freshly cut straw and lime juice excite the nose.  A green-ish, grippy thing happens in the mouth.  The Wine Steward now carries a line of Portuguese fish products, packaged in tins.  THIS wine should help get you acquainted with THOSE deliciously fishy thingies.  We encourage your exploration of both.

Did you know there was such a thing?

2015 CARLOS SERRES BLANCO – Rioja, Spain

We go ga-ga for RED Rioja at all the price points, young and old, and all impositions of house styles.  Showing you white Rioja happens only occasionally, however.  Other parts of Spain deliver more intriguing blancos.  Certainly you’ve hung around us long enough to become familiar with Albariño and Verdejo and others besides.  – White Rioja is somewhere down the “Others Besides” list normally, as we’ve presented it.  The main issue is its potential drabness.  The main white grape of the realm, Viura (known as “Macabeo” elsewhere), furnishes industrial white wine-ness; soft, plush, and fairly non-descript.  Somewhat bored and un-intrigued, we lovers of “dynamic” head elsewhere.

What’s different this time? 

First:  White Rioja that’s not sixteen bucks but quite a bit less. 

Second:  This got here sooner than most, so the just-bottled freshness is still going happenin’.  Viura develops (dies) pretty quickly, but we’ve got a head start on the oxidation.

Third:  This sees a 15% addition of a grape only recently recognized, Tempranillo Blanco;  a mutation of the familiar red grape.  That’s good for the “geek factor” but there could be more than just novelty here:  Might the mutation of Rioja’s sturdy red variety give a little more backbone to a normally-flaccid wine experience?  Is it only my imagination that this inexpensive white seems to deliver some actual tannins, begging – once again – for our recently acquired canned fish products?

It’s for you to decide whether this is really good or very special. 

Sorry:  those are your only two choices!