Last month, after a very cold and long winter, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had received some samples of summer whites and even though the weather outside was cool and dreary, I popped several of the wines—I was going to force summer to come by drinking some wines associated with warmer days.
I tasted those during the week, and by the weekend? 82 Degrees.
Shortly after that, however, we did a bit of traveling. First, it was a week in California, followed by a week in Austria. The weather was great in Sonoma and surprisingly good in Salzburg (particularly when we spent a day in the Wachau), so I had forgotten about the wintry weather woes back home. Thus, I was a bit surprised (and stunned) when we got back to Philadelphia and were “greeted” by grey skies and cool temperatures.
I knew exactly what was needed: another round of “Drink Them and It Will Come”. I had a few more bottles of summer whites, and I needed to drink them to bring around summer. Let’s see what happens to the temps over the next few days….
2013 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Monopole Blanco: Retail $15. I have not had much white Rioja (made from 100% Viura), in fact, I can not think of a single time that I have had it, so I was looking forward to giving this a swirl. In the glass, there was a distinct banana note with a bit of peach emitting from the faintly yellow wine. On the palate, there is a bit of the banana as well, while the acidity is immediately apparent and carries all the way through. Bone dry, this would be great as an apéritif out on the patio, or with some lighter seafood. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
We had just returned from a week in Austria when I popped this Grüner Veltliner. While in Austria, I had more than my fair share of Grüner, but we dabbled mostly in Smaragd wines from the Wachau–basically the grapes are harvested much later, resulting in richer, more opulent wines.
2012 Count Karolyi Private Cellars Grüner Veltliner: Retail $12. While Grüner is closely tied to Austria, this wine is actually from Hungary, and while not as voluptuous as the Wachau wines I had been drinking, it does not carry the “richer” price tag either. There is some good tart granny smith apple, but it is a bit thin through the middle, still, it is a solid option as a summer wine–take it to the beach (if your beach allows that sort of thing, of course) or crack one out on the deck. Good. 84-86 Points.
I first got on the Moscato train a few years ago, and I have been a happy passenger ever since. Well, that is not entirely true. Recently, with its increased popularity (thank you Drake, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj), there has also been an increase in price. Even just a couple of years ago, you could find a descent bottle of Moscato in the $10-12 range, but that seems to have inched up into the $15-20 range. Still, for a sweet semi-sparkler that packs a light punch, Moscato is wonderful.
Tropical Passion Fruit Moscato: Retail $18. When I got this as a sample, I literally thought: “What the hell is this?” I was reminded about all those cheeses with stuff floating around in it: black pepper, pimento, truffles—if I wanted to add items to my cheese or wine, I can do it myself, thank you very much. So when I saw this wine, which is blended with Brazilian passion fruit pulp, I wondered if I should even try it. There was also the label and the frosted bottle. Oh boy. I poured a little and took a whiff. Yes, there was a bit of Passion Fruit, but it was far from overwhelming. Had I not known, it likely would have taken a bit of time to come up with what the scent. On the palate, it was … delightful. Not over the top in any way. Sure, there was some passion fruit, but like on the nose, reserved. The sweetness and tartness seemed to be in the right proportion, and the finish was refreshing, and at only 5.5% alcohol, you don’t feel guilty having a second (or third) glass. I tried really hard to not like this, but in the end, one of the better Moscatos I have had recently. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Luca Bosio Moscato d’Asti: Retail $18. This wine shows some pleasant melon and a bit of tangerine initially, but I found this considerably sweeter than the Tropical with just enough acidity to keep it all together. The sweetness lingers all the way through the finish, serving as a bit of a distraction. Still, I like it, but would like it a whole lot more if the tartness were more dominant. Good. 85-87 Points.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in Alsace—I studied there during college (although I was more interested in the effect of wine than the inherent quality) and more recently, I have led several weeks of bike trips in the region. In Alsace, Riesling is likely king, followed closely by Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Pinot Blanc does not have the same status (e.g., it can not be classified as “Grand Cru” as can the other three), but is widely consumed in the region. It is harder to find in this country, so I was excited to see this land on my stoop.
2012 Gustave Lorentz Pinot Blanc Reserve: Retail $19. I have had some Lorentz before, and was pleased with the wine. I tasted this on two subsequent days and the first day, well, there frankly was not much there. I let it warm a bit, but still not expressive at all. Day two it was more impressive, still not an over-abundance of fruit, but there are some subtle tropical flavors along with a heavy dose of tartness. I am glad I tried this again on the second day since on the first, well, um… Good to the verge of Very Good (on the second day) 85-87 Points.
The last wine on the docket had something that just about every “serious” wine drinker tries to avoid: a “critter” on the label. I normally try to avoid such wines, too, since the reasoning is rather straightforward: if they put an animal on the label, they are trying to appeal to the crowd that buys wine strictly by how “cute” the artwork is. Now, no one can ever really accuse a lobster of being “cute” and the winery is actually named after the colorful Rock Lobsters found along the New Zealand coast (as an added bonus, it causes me to recall THIS), so I dove on in.
2012 Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $12-15. Immediately upon pouring, there are tons of tropical fruit on the nose—pineapple, guava, lemon. Tarty tartness (which is a step beyond mere “tartness”) on the palate. Whoa. With a goat cheese salad, this would rock. Or with some seafood risotto. Or a hot patio. Bring on summer! Very Good. 86-88 Points.