NV Aja White Table Wine, Australia $3.99

Silverdale, WA    12.5% alc.    (Purchased on 12/20/13)

IMG_1341Front label states, “A unique Australian white table wine specially blended to go with spicy Asian food.”  Website indicates it’s “made from Hunter Valley Verdelho and Semillon, together with Sauvignon Blanc from the Adelaide Hills”.

Brilliant, very pretty medium golden color.  A fair amount of German diesel aroma in the nose, which is a bit strange because there is apparently no Riesling or other German varieties in the blend.  There is also a flinty, gravelly, earthy quality to the nose too.  Fairly high acidity gives it a very tart, lemony taste on the front of the tongue through the finish.  These strike me as qualities I would expect to see in Portuguese Verdelhos.  Flavors show stone fruit like underripe peach with floral qualities and more tart citrus.

What surprised me most about this wine was the lack of residual sugar…something I look for when matching a white with spicy Asian cuisine.  The sugar usually helps to soften the heat a bit.  This is a very unique wine, especially for an Aussie white.  Tasty, but too dry and tart for it’s purpose in my estimate…and I had it with chicken teriyaki with spicy hot garlic pepper sauce.  Try it for the experience…if you can find it…especially while it’s on sale at $3.19 in WA.  Not a repeat buy for me.

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18 thoughts on “NV Aja White Table Wine, Australia $3.99

  1. Bair

    I liked this Aja wine. Went back and got 8 more bottles. Brought them to weddings, graduation parties, and even to an interview for an apartment. People loved it! ( though I didn’t get the apartment.)

    Reply
  2. Seedboy

    I think Oakland has this wine. I have not tasted it. My basic view is that the default knowledge about wine and Asian food is all wrong for Southeast Asian food and you should drink Champagne or Burgundy, red or white depending on the dish.

    Reply
    1. Darrell

      I concur, totally, about your match of Burgundy and Champagne with Asian food except for dishes with chili and Japanese food. Sometimes a claret type is called for, though. I am sick and tired of the BS about pairing sweet/drier Gewuztraminer and/or Riesling with Asian food, both domestic or foreign. Somebody should ask the Chinese what to pair up with their food instead of relying on domestic opinion and what they have experienced in Americanized Asian food. There, got that rant off my chest.

      Reply
      1. BargainWhine

        Hi Darrell and Seedboy. Thanks for that opinion and rant. I would never have guessed that Burgundy (do you mean red, white, or both?) would go with Asian food. The wine consultant setting up the SF store, which is in a neighborhood with a lot of Asian and Russian immigrants, said he had been recommending the Valpolicella Ripasso to go with Asian food, and it had been well received.

        Reply
        1. Darrell

          BW, Asian food does use sugar in much of their dishes, from a smidgeon to a lot, so one should pair a lush, seemingly sweet wine with them and a richer, perfumey Pinot or red Burgundy fits the bill for me, especially pork dishes. I can see where some of the IO syrahs would too. Some of the not so sweet seafood goes well with heavier Chards and white Burgundy while the sweeter seafood would go better with those sweet Gewurzes and Riesling. Duck goes with either claret type or Pinot with me. Beef, depends on level of sugar and Champagne is safe.

          While I was at the SF store investigating the inventory and not buying, I encountered an elderly Chinese couple, recent emigres, pondering the tissue wrapped 2002 and 2001 Blackford Cab that was a buck higher. The tissue had the vintage written on them. I had to open my big mouth and tell them this was higher by a dollar, but the 2001 was the one to get since it was scarcer. Well damn if they didn’t clean the shelf of the 2001’s. That’ll teach me to keep my mouth shut especially when I know that there are GO people wanting this wine. I am fairly certain these wines didn’t go to a good home.

          I don’t think the wine consultant realizes the potential wine sellers have with the SF Chinese community, not Asian in this case, since the Chinese have large banquets where one can pair a multitude of wine types and not be narrowly focused on one type of wine.

          Reply
          1. lim13 Post author

            It’s interesting. We have a pretty decent sized population of Chinese in the Seattle area. And when I was still working the wine and liquor retail industry, we sold little wine to them. In terms of the other southeast Asian countries like Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia…they were usually looking for French Cognacs and Bordeaux or Burgundy…due to French occupation at one time I assume.

            Your clarification of your initial comment, Darrell, regarding sugar in the cooking, meats in particular and specific types of food is most welcome. That better explains your initial comment. Although no Chardonnay (unless it’s unoaked) will ever pass my lips with Asian food. I’m just not a fan of the variety and there are too many variables in the way it’s produced in terms of the oak used (new/old, amount of toast, time in barrel etc.) Finally…you’re a brave soul for telling that story about the elimination of the 2001 Blackford Cab at the SF store. : ~)

            Reply
            1. Darrell

              Hi Lim 13. I was wondering about the number of Chinese and other Asians in the Seattle area that patronize your GO stores. Here at the Berkeley, Oakland and SF stores and outlying areas we have a decent size patronage from this community, sometimes I think an overrepresentation in relation to the population. Ever visit a Yelp restaurant review? Either the Asian community likes to review more than most or they love to eat out or both.

              I, too, like you, didn’t appreciate White Burgundies when I was much younger. The diminishing of Chardonnay fruit, barrel fermentation pungency, flavor of oak and barrel toastiness, all this contributed to my dislike of White Burgundy and the Calif. counterparts. I have since gotten away from my fruit focus of my younger days and do appreciate the taste and smells of these Chards and don’t mind the variables you list. The only trouble is that they are expensive due to status of the vineyard and the labor involved from barrel fermentation, from racking off lees the wine may have sat on for a time and batonnage too. I wish I could afford more of the stuff. I still appreciate other styles of Chardonnay though and they will just pair with other foods instead. I assume you drink the oaked Chardonnays with other- than-Asian cuisine. There is a parallel between Chardonnay winemaking and sparkling wine in that they can be manipulated to a higher degree than, say, reds. Does one like the simpleness of a carbonated wine like the KIKI from New Zealand, the Charmat vin mousseux now at our GO stores, or the more manipulated Champagne and other vin mousseux.

            2. lim13 Post author

              I’ve checked out Yelp! reviews from time to time, but never noticed the numbers of Asian community comments. Actually in relationship to other whites, I drink very little Chardonnay with anything. For years I’ve belonged to the Gainey wine club, so get a number of their oak aged Chards and Sauv Blancs…and they’re very well-made. Strange how the prices don’t “feel” so high when you’re getting the wines through a club shipment. So I drink those, but few other Chards. I’ve always wanted to try that Kiki Because I like bubbly and love NZ Sauv Blancs), but it has never appeared up here.

        2. Seedboy

          A long time ago some Russian River wineries had a pinot and food pairing weekend. Davis Bynum served a Thai red curry. It was delicious. A group of friends periodically now dine at a Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland called binh minh quan (highly recommended) that has a horrible wine list. We bring Burgundy and California pinot/chard and our own glasses, they don’t charge corkage, and we have a feast for about $25 a person plus the cost of the wine. Personally I think pinot is the most versatile grape to pair with foods, but it does not go with the shellfish dishes. Chablis, however, is brilliant with them.

          Reply
      2. lim13 Post author

        Sparkling wines yes…for me. Burgundy…no. You must not be a retiree on a limited fixed income. I can’t afford a decent Burgundy or Champagne (unless they show up at GO, which up north here is limited…and not generally the best quality). My wife and I enjoy sparklers, so I search out the best inexpensive ones I can find (Spanish Cava and Italian Prosecco come to mind). And as far as off-dry (not sweet) Rieslings and Gewurz…for me it’s a matter of taste and what I’ve personally experienced over 40 years of drinking wine (not “BS” and “domestic opinions”) that has helped me decide what I prefer with Asian cuisine (which, by the way is all over the board in flavors and styles, depending on the country). For me, they usually work pretty well.

        I appreciate the feedback on wines that you feel pair best with Asian cuisine…as horizons in wine need to be expanded. But I don’t want our readers to feel their choices need to be one way or the other. Consistent with our blog philosophy of “a wine is good if you like it”, I’d encourage our readers to apply that to food/wine matching. And by all means…experiment! I read “Red Wine With Fish” years ago when it was first published…and I loved the idea that folks were mixing it up. By the way…I’ve found a number of bubblies that go really well with certain types of sushi.

        Asking the Chinese what to pair with their food seems only reasonable. But the majority of Chinese restaurants I’ve been in have very limited/poor wine lists and many seem to also be bitten by the “domestic opinion” bug.

        Reply
        1. flitcraft

          Certainly the current attitude in China with regard to wine is more about labels than about which wines complement food well. Not surprising, really, given the lack of a tradition of grape-wine in China until very recently. When I visit friends in China, they’re always excited to show off a French wine that they’ve gotten–like a sturdy Bordeaux with steamed carp. ( I also recall a particular banquet where, after multiple shots of baijiu liquor as toasts, our hosts filled our lovely Riedel stemware to the brim with ice cold milk!)

          My own preference in complementing Asian food leans towards off-dry Rieslings with Indian masalas and Thai coconut milk based curries, fruit forward reds with Chinese red-cooked meat dishes and Shanghai cuisine more generally, and beer liberally with anything super-spicy. YMMV of course.

          Reply
          1. patrick

            This is one of the most interesting and intellectual conversations I have experienced here. Personally I’ll just have a Tsing Tao and hold the bait!

            Reply
            1. lim13 Post author

              Please save one of those Tsing Taos for me, Patrick! Lance Cutler, the hilarious former winemaker from Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma always said, “Behind every great wine is a case of ice cold beer!” He and his crew always enjoyed “the pause that refreshes” after a hard day in the winery.

          2. lim13 Post author

            Was hoping you’d chime in, flitcraft…as I seem to recall you speaking of travels to China for work or pleasure. The Chinese are into Bordeaux too, eh? And milk softens the blow of spicy, right? Not sure I’ve ever had it in a Reidel glass though. Have to try that with my next warm brownie.

            Reply
            1. flitcraft

              Not sure which Riedel glass is the milk one, though. 😉

              As for Bordeaux and China, there are huge problems there with counterfeit wines. I tend to suggest to my Chinese friends that they buy Australian wine instead of French because it’s less likely to be fake.

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