I reserve a sort of parallel pity for people professing, ‘ I only drink red wine,’ as I do for those picky pisshaps who propound, ‘I only date Nordic meconologists with silicone hooters and poodles named ‘Pummy Paw-Paws.’
Yoda reminds you: An entire world it is that you are missing.
White Pride World Wide
When the temperature treks into Tartarus territory, all but the most bromidic and boring among us are willing to do a little exploring, so so long as it doesn’t involve getting off our asses. Therefore, while you are canting on the couch, here are a couple of interesting white wines for your cogitation, consideration, and categorical consumption:
Mazzoni Pinot Grigio, 2011, around $20
I know, I know: Pinot grigio is the antithesis of experimental enology… Except that this one is from Tuscany.
Under the Tuscan sun, red wine grapes proliferate: 80% of the vines in Italy’s third most planted region (after Sicily and Apuglia) are red. Sangiovese (meaning ‘Blood of Jove’) is the all-star, followed by cabernet sauvignon, merlot and canaiolo, especially in Chianti. Whites are for the most part limited to forgettable blending grapes like the often overly-acidic trebbiano, Vin Santo ingredients like malvasia—although vernaccia, Tuscany’s only DOCG may be the exception to prove the rule.
As far as I know, however, Mazzoni’s is the only 100% pinot grigio from the Maremma zone imported to the United States, and it is somewhat unique in its flavor profile, due in part to Tuscany’s legendary lousy soil and a climate which, unlike Friuli, is not subject to breezes from the Adriatic. Friuli has long been heralded as benchmark pinot grigio territory, which often show delicacy and bold concentration in the same glass. These wines emphasize the peach profile of the grape along with light, almost chalky almond and floral notes.
Coastal Maremma, of course, is home to the formerly-known-as ‘Super Tuscans’ Sassicaia and Ornellaia, and more than one critic refers to Mazzoni Pinot Grigio as a ‘White Super Tuscan’. Not sure that the reputation is yet fully forged, but the wine is a remarkable incarnation of the grape.
Chimney Rock ‘Elevage Blanc’, Napa Valley, 2008, about $30
Otherwise, should you oenologists optate for a uveous option with oodles of oomph and oozing with über-uppitiness, you ought to undulate from the ottoman and sashay over to Chimney Rock for a snooker of ‘Elevage Blanc’—a unique proprietary blend of sauvignon blanc and pinot gris.
I say ‘unique’ not merely because the word begins with a ‘u’, but because in the Northern Hemisphere these 70% – 30% type blends are generally associated with low-quality, mass production wines, rarely with an AVA attached. Chimney Rock’s version is high-quality, low production, in part because Napa Valley simply does not put too much of either one on the market. Around 2000 Napa acres are planted to sauvignon blanc; less than chardonnay, cabernet, merlot and pinot noir, and the 223 acres (total) of pinot gris—much of which is released as ‘pinot grigio’—barely registers on the vinous Richter Scale.
I would confess a bit of ‘huh?’ when ponderizing the various reasons that Chimney Rock might have had to produce this wine, but less upon sampling it. It’s a full-blown, barrel-fermented blend, aged on lees and lush with lactic acids. Stone fruit—especially apricot—and honeysuckle predominate, with some green apple, fennel and grapefruit citrus, no doubt a contribution of sauvignon blanc. Overall wine weight, relatively high alcohol (14.2 % ABV) and Bosc pear notes are pinot gris’ housewarming gift to the bottle.
Both above wines are part of the Terlato family collection; the Tuscan pinot grigio is produced via a partnership with Franceschi. Chimney Rock as been solely owned by Terlato since 2004. Although, like Tuscany, known primarily for red wine, especially cabernet sauvignon, tis the season to be chillin’.
If your reds are giving you the blues, try these whites; a color scheme and palate palette perfect for the Fourth.