Quick Sips — 05 October 2013
Blanc check: Sampling the other white wines

By Bob Hosmon

I like Chardonnay. I’ve never been an advocate of the ABC (“Anything But Chardonnay”) mentality. I never will.

But I do wish consumers would sometimes venture out of their comfort zone and consider something different in white. I’d suggest Sauvignon Blanc, Fumé Blanc, Chenin Blanc or Pinot Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc comes in two distinct styles: Herbaceous and tart, like the 2012 Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc ($14), one of California’s finest organic wines; or clean and crisp with a softer finish on the palate, like the 2012 Flora Springs Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc ($25) and the 2012 Trione Russian River Valley River Road Ranch Sauvignon Blanc ($23). (Winemaker Scot Covington poetically describes his Trione as “fresh as a summer breeze blowing through crisp, air-dried linens.”) Each of these Sauvignon Blancs pairs nicely with sushi or crab, and especially with Chinese or Thai cuisines.

As for Fumé Blanc, that’s just a made-up name for Sauvignon Blanc, initially created decades ago to boost then lagging sales of the wine. It’s now used by wineries, like Dry Creek Vineyard, to differentiate that wine from their wines labeled “Sauvignon Blanc.” The 2012 Dry Creek Vineyard, Fumé Blanc ($14) is a particular favorite of mine, a clean and crisp white that begs to be served with seafood and also goes very well with goat cheese.

The Dry Creek Vineyard 2012 Dry Chenin Blanc ($12) is another winner — and a bargain to boot. While Chenin Blanc grapes are ubiquitous in France’s Loire Valley, few wineries in California produce a wine from that grape. But if you’ve never sipped a Chenin Blanc, you should, and this delightful white can be enjoyed as a cocktail wine or as a complement to oysters, clams and mussels.

Seafood, including sushi, also goes well with the 2012 Youngberg Hill Pinot Blanc ($20), a first-rate organic white from Oregon. A good Pinot Blanc, to me, tastes of apples and pears, and the Youngberg Hill is no exception. This crisp, delightful white is a versatile choice to serve with chicken in lemon sauce, quiche Lorraine, and Swiss or feta cheese.

 

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