Category Archives: White

Gérard Bertrand 2017 “Cote des Roses’ Languedoc white

Grenache (presumably Grenache Blanc), Vermentino (Rolle), Viognier; 13% ABV
Appellation Languedoc Protégée, Sud de France
imported by USA Wine West LLC, Sausalito, CA
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 31 May

This wine’s unusual bottle and blend intrigued me but also made me a little skeptical.  Would it be just hype, or actually good?  It is actually good.  The wine benefits from a few minutes of air, allowing the fruit to emerge and integrate.  Its smoothly blended flavors are of honeysuckle, yellow and white pear, moderate lemon, perhaps yellow melon or peach.  The fruit is full and ripe, but not sweet, decently complex, with lively ripe acid and structure that more guiding than restraining.  It’s not in a style that I recognize, but it is yummy, and stood up well to various strong-ish flavors.  That’s a glass stopper on top, and the bottom of the bottle is rose-shaped.  Seedboy liked it, too.

This bottle was courtesy of Richmond Grocery Outlet.

“Il Grigio” Vino Spumante Brut (Dry Sparkling Wine)

Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio; 11.% ABV
imported by Eugenio Collavini Viticoltori
$7 at the Oakland, CA, store on about 12 March

I’ve like the Collavini wines I’ve had before, so I had high hopes for this sparkling wine.  The fruit, ripe yellow with hint of green, was smooth and even, not very complex, with the acid and carbonation a little low. I found it okay but unexciting.

Collavini 2016 Ribolla Gialla “Turian”

Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, northeastern Italy; 12.5% ABV
imported by Eugenio Collavini Viticoltori, Santa Rosa, CA
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 25 Feb

I’ve liked Ribolla Gialla wines previously, so I couldn’t resist trying this fancier version.  It is a more impressive wine than the cheaper version ($5, I think) around GO these days but, to me, not quite $10 impressive.

On the first night, the wine showed medium-ripe fruit with crisp acid (lemon, apple / maybe pear, a little yellow grapefruit) that has a touch of something orange (orange, apricot?, passion fruit?), hint of green lime, bitterness of citrus pith, and chalky minerality.  It’s an elegant and nicely structured wine, but I would have been happier with a little more complexity for this price.

The second night, the fruit was more forward, the structure weaker, the flavors a little less complex although still tasty, and the acid a little stronger.  I preferred it the first night.

Collavini 2015 Bianco “Broy”

50% Friulano, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc; 13% ABV
Collio DOC, northeastern Italy
imported by Eugenio Collavini Viticoltori, Santa Rosa, CA
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 25 Feb

I recalled liking the Collavini 2013 Ribolla Gialla, although I haven’t tried the more recent vintage of this bottling, so I was excited to see from Collavini a Refosco and a couple fancier white wines: the “Turian” (another Ribolla Gialla) and this wine.  I was a little skeptical of the blend (the CA Chardonnay – Sauvignon Blanc blends I’ve tasted have been weird), but decided to get a bottle out of some combination of trust and curiosity.  🙂  I thought this wine was delicious!

Although the wine had a lovely nose, I found the first taste a little underwhelming, a strange combination of heavy-ish honeyed yellow flowers and fruit, stopped short by a bitter structure.  However, with some air, the wine opened to nicely delineated flavors of (as initially) honeyed yellow flowers, yellow pear / apple, white pear, hints of green herbs and lime, bitterness of the herbs / grape skin, and minerality close to the white pear.   There was quite a range of flavors, but the blend was seamless, with a nice fruit / acid balance.  While none of this bottle survived to the next day, I expect it would follow the typical pattern of becoming more fruit-forward, less structured, but still tasty.

Terres Secrètes 2015 Mâcon Milly-Lamartine

Appellation Mâcon-Villages Contrôlée, France
100% Chardonnay; 13% ABV
imported by Vigneron Associés, Santa Rosa, CA
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on ~25 Jan

Something like 5 or 6 of these Terres Secrètes Bourgogne (Burgundy) Blanc wines came in at once a while ago.  This is the third one I’ve tried, and maybe my favorite so far.  I think most of the less expensive ones are gone by now, perhaps including this one.

On the first night, the wine was a bit reserved, showing typical chardonnay flavors of  medium-ripe lemon, yellow apple, white pear, with a hint of green lime, in a chalky minerally structure.  The nice complexity was on the subtle side for me, making for an elegant wine.  I liked it closer to Berkeley room temperature (a little chilly these days) than to fridge temp.  As it warms, a little bit of something like apricot or yellow / orange tropical fruit comes out.

On the second night, the wine became considerably more accessible, with the fruit coming forward (although still subtly complex) and the structure receding although still present.  To me, this is a very good white Burgundy for the price.

Apparently, a number of people preferred the 2016 Mâcon Verzé at $6, regardless of price.  I agree the flavors were more full and forward in the Mâcon Verzé, and I liked it, too, but I thought the structure and elegance were superior in this wine.  To each, his or her own.  🙂

Quinta Santa Eufemia Porto White “10 Years Old”

Duoro, Portugal; 19.5% ABV
45% Malvasia Fina, 35% Gouveio (Verdelho), 20% Moscatel Galego, 10% Rabigato
imported by M.H.W. Ltd., Manhasset, NY
$15 for 500ml at the Oakland, CA, store on 28 Jan

I’m sure I would have found them if I had gone looking, but I didn’t recall ever seeing a white Port before, in any store, so I had to try this one. My reaction is that it’s interesting and tasty.

Maybe because i’m unfamiliar with white port, it took a while to grow on me.  It’s also possible that, like red port, it needed a few days to open up.  Now, the flavors, which strike me as yellow grape jelly, light honey, light caramel, and golden raisin / sherry, have integrated nicely, with a gently viscous texture and balancing acid. The differences between my tasting (more oxidized flavors) and notes I found online (fresher flavors, more floral and fresh fruit) suggest that this wine is near the end of its life.  There was slight sediment at the bottom of the bottle.  One site, via Google translate, seemed to suggest that this wine would be best within two weeks of being opened.  I haven’t tried pairing it, but I think it would go well with cheeses, lighter paté, dried fruits and nuts, apple pie, or custard-based desserts.

Anyway, I found it pretty tasty, and certainly an interesting experience, but I don’t find it super compelling, especially for this price, which is not much less than sites in Europe were selling it for.  Has anyone else tried it?  The Oakland store also had Ruby and Tawny (red) Ports from this producer.  Comments on those are also welcome.

Ziobaffa 2014 Pinot Grigio “Filmakers Edition”

Puglia IGT, 12% ABV
Certified Organic. Sustainable.
Bottled by Castellani
imported by Sage Beverages, Carlsbad, CA
$3.99 at the San Diego (Downtown), CA, store on 3 June

20170624_120413An organic, sustainable Pinot Grigio that’s years behind current vintage, comes in a funky bottle with a strange cork wrapped in plastic at Grocery Outlet for $4? What could go wrong?

To be short, this wine is inferior to $2.99 “2 buck Chuck” Pinot Grigio that I bought to use as cooking wine last week in almost every way. It drinks as over the hill and not coming back. It offers some oak and pear on the nose, pours a slightly golden, straw color and there’s a medium mouthfeel with green mango and sourness and that flavor carries through the finish, completely distracting from any positive characteristics the wine may have once offered. This is the first date that shows up bitter and incompletely recovered from his or her last relationship when your first conversation on the phone was promising.

This is a strong no go for me.

Eo 2014 Trebbiano D’Abruzzo

Trebbiano D’Abruzzo DOC, central Italy; 12.5% ABV
produced and bottled by Azienda Collefriso
imported by Wine Appellations, LTD, Mill Valley, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 June

I seemed to recall that I had seen Trebbiano-based wines only from the province of Veneto, but the Wikipedia page linked above says that

The Trebbiano family account for around a third of all white wine in Italy. It is mentioned in more than 80 of Italy’s DOCs (“Controlled origin denominations”), although it has just seven of its own : Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano di Aprilia, Trebbiano di Arborea, Trebbiano di Capriano del Colle, Trebbiano di Romagna and Trebbiano Val Trebbia dei Colli Piacentini and Trebbiano di Soave.

Perhaps the most successful Trebbiano-based blend are the Orvieto whites of Umbria, which use a local clone called Procanico.

As I’d expect from a wine grown farther south, this Trebbiano is a bit more robust that those I recall from Veneto, but it is still very Italian.

The wine tastes of yellow / white melon and pear, some green lime, and a slightly aspirin-like grape skin bitterness, with a somewhat fleshy mouthfeel, crisp lemony acid, and supporting, integrated minerality.  Anyway, I really like this wine for this price.  In terms of food pairing, it would fit in the same niche as a more crisp Sauvignon Blanc.  None of my bottle survived to be tasted the next day.

Also, the front label seems to indicate that the wine may have been made with organic grapes.  The back label doesn’t say anything on the subject.

Two 2013 German Rieslings

Bruno M. 2013 Kreuznacher Kronenberg – Nahe Riesling, Bernkasteler Kurfustlay – Mosel Riesling
Both 100% Riesling
Mosel- 10.5%ABV, 21.7g/L residual sugar, 6.3g/L acidity
Nahe – 10%ABV, 22.5g/L residual sugar, 5.8g/L acidity
$3.99 at the San Diego, CA store on 3 June

A Tale of Two Rieslings: sampling these two, side by side is like a good riddle – hard to crack. They are very, very similar, so much so that I wouldn’t even suggest trying to find one singly or choosing one over the other. The following are my observations after a quick pop and pour and letting them come up to a more appropriate temperature once taken out of the fridge.

These are two, nice, sweet Rieslings with good mouth feel and a touch of minerality, which you absolutely can’t go wrong with at $3.99 per bottle. They are semi-sweet by residual sugar numbers in the U.S. but sweet by German standards. Buy them both and do a blind tasting. Maybe it’s the wistfulness in me for not having sampled more regional Rieslings while in Mosel last summer (don’t get me wrong, we had our fair share, but there is only so much Riesling you can even sample, let alone drink in one trip) or maybe its just remembrances of relaxing alongside the Mosel River, but I find these both really tasty. They’re not complicated, but if you don’t mind sweet wines, give them a shot by all means. These are *not* trocken (and the numbers and the palate don’t lie). Like most sweeter wines, they’d pair great with spicy Asian food – we cooked up some Thai barbecue chicken and Thai beef salad with a generous amount of birds eye chilies.

Now, for some non-alternative facts: According to the trade info at Grapex (see bottom of post for more info), the Mosel is less sweet than the Nahe and also has more ABV (0.5%) and acid. The difference is pretty negligible but it is identifiable in taste, and the Mosel has a touch more minerality to it. The Nahe is the more floral of the two, both in nose and on the palate, as the literature states. Melon and lychee predominate on the palate. Mouthfeel is darn near the same and is silky, slightly viscous.

If you are interested, these are distributed out of Germany from MO-RHE-NA which is an export association.  They have a very comprehensive PDF of the wineries in their portfolio that might make planning a German wine trip fun (http://www.mo-rhe-na.com/doc/Introduction_2016.pdf).

Grapex Trade Info: http://www.grapex.com/sites/default/files/wine_pdf_files/bruno_m._-_nahe_kreuznacker.pdf, http://www.grapex.com/sites/default/files/wine_pdf_files/bruno_m._-_mosel_bernkasteler.pdf

La Croix St. Vincent 2015 Sauvignon (Blanc)

75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon; 12% ABV
Bordeaux, France
imported by Max Beverage, South Pasadena, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 May

I don’t remember seeing a white Bordeaux at the GO for some time, and the reds on this label, and from this importer in general, have been good, so I was excited to try this wine.  I found it tasty and so easily drinkable.

The nose is lovely, of yellow and green melon and gooseberries, with aromatic floral / musqué character.  On the palate, the body is light, giving the flavors – those in the nose plus some yellow grapefruit and green lime, minerality, slightly astringent bitterness on the finish – a nice delicateness.  For me, this went down way too easily, and we had no trouble finishing the whole bottle.  Highly Drinkable.