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AROMATIC WHITE WINES
When temperatures start rising and days grow longer, aromatic white wines become more compelling. Both Ontario and British Columbia produce fine aromatic wines mostly due to suitable weather and appropriate selection of grape varieties planted 20 – 30 years ago.
The change of seasons brings a new sense of energy, providing an opportunity to discover new wines, different taste sensations, evanescent textures and simply a change of vinous pleasures.
Most people start drinking sweet white wines, switch to off-dry, floral wines, and eventually end up becoming red or fortified wine aficionados.
Having progressed through the spectrum of wine, it is surprising how easy it is to fall into a habit into serving the same wine all the time. Wineries like to develop a brand-loyal clientele, but who wants to drink the same wine all the time? It is like eating the same food all the time!
White wines by their very nature are light, “clear”, easier to enjoy, more versatile, may be consumed without food, are refreshing, and often less expensive than red wines.
Produced in most wine regions, white wines complement best, light foods, soft, creamy cheeses, white meats pending on their method of preparation, and are generally easier to digest.
Riesling is a classic aromatic wine that can be made in any number of styles, from refreshingly crisp, bone-dry to more complex, rich, sweet dessert styles and everything in between. It is one of the most versatile grapes and Ontario wineries produce the whole range.
Germany, the birthplace of Rhineriesling has been producing fragrant Rieslings for millennia, and Alsace, France enjoys an excellent reputation for this grape variety. Northern Italy and Austria do produce fine, dry, light Rieslings.
Slovenia and Hungary have been marketing Welschriesling and Olaszrizling for many years, but both are really nor Rieslings at all. Their true Riesling called Rajani Rizling can be delicious but is rare and difficult to find.
Washington State is known for its fine Rieslings, as are New Zealand, Barossa Valley and Tasmania, both in Australia.
Sauvignon Blanc is another refreshing wine that is produced in many styles in all corners of the world. Originally from Bordeaux it is widely planted in the Loire Valley, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada (Ontario and B C),
Australia, California and Spain, and yields a phenomenal range of tastes reflecting the terroir. Some like the softer New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc; others prefer the Loire version, which is more aromatic and pleasing.
In Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc is blended with Semillon and a little Muscadelle to hide excessive “ grassy “ aromas resulting from pyrazine specifically found in this grape variety.
One can’t mention aromatic wines without including Gewurztraminer which seduces many with its rich texture, complex spice, honeyed lyche fruit and floral rose petal aromas. Originally form the town of Tramin in Alto Adige, the vine was planted in Austria, eventually also in Germany.
German growers planted it when Alsace was under German jurisdiction and after the region was annexed to France again the vineyards were left untouched. Some time later, a spicy clone of Traminer was discovered, propagated and vinified. Alsatian dry Gewurztraminer enjot a legendary reputation especially when it comes from one of the few specialized wineries and grand cru vineyards. It goes very well with pates, but particularly well with seared fattened goose liver (aka foie gras d’oie ).
Gewurztraminer exudes floral aromas, ripe peach, lyche and fruit flavours, is well-balanced and long lasting. For Chinese and Japanese food fanciers it is highly recommended.
Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are two underrated grapes. Both offer superb value. They are fruity, light and balanced to offer maximum pleasure for minimum expense.
Italian Pinot Gris a k a Pinot Grigio is always light and pleasant.
Tokay Pinot Gris from Alsace is delicious with grilled shrimps. Ontario and British Columbia also produce fine Pinot Gris albeit in very small quantities.
Muscat family grape wines are superb for those who like the natural aroma of it. It thrives in all Mediterranean countries, particularly well in Sicily, the Island of Pantelleria, Cyprus, Greece’s Aegean island like Lesbos, Crete, Mykonos, Cotes du Rhone, California, Australia and South Africa.
Hybrida like Muscat Ottonel in Austria are most pleasant as are the Serge Muskotaly in Takji, Hungary. Other aromatic grapes such as Semillon, Viognier, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viura and Malvasia should not be overlooked.
All offer pleasures many wine enthusiasts miss due to an unwillingness to try new, exciting tastes.
Here are a few fine aromatic wines selected from the L C B O general list:
RIESLING DRY, VINELAND ESTATES, ONTARIO $ 9.95
SAUVINGON BLANC, DEAKIN ESTATE, AUSTRALIA $ 9.95
BAROSSA SEMILLON, PETER LEHMANN, AUSTRALIA $ 14.95
GEWURZTRAMINER, FETZER, CALIFORNIA $ 11.95
PINOT GRIS, LURTON, SPAIN $ 8.85
SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE, SANTA RITA, CHILE 11.85
PIESPORTER MICHELSBERG RIESLING, BIHN 8.35
PINOT BLANC, DEINHARD, GERMANY 10.95
GEWURZTRAMINER, DOPFF ET IRION, ALSACE 15.95
GENTIL, HUGEL, ALSACE $ 12.10
PINOT BLANC TRIMBACH, ALSACE $ 12.10
RIESLING, L. BEYER, ALSACE $ 13.70
BERNKASTELER KURFURSTLAY, WINZERVEREIN MOSEL, GERMANY $ 7.90
RUDESHEIMER ROSENGARTEN, SPAETLESE, HAUTT, GERMANY $ 11.10
PINOT GRIGIO DELLE VENEZIE, CAVIT, VENETO, ITALY $ 9.95
PINOT GRIGIO LE RIME, BANFI, $ 11.95
FALL HARVEST SAUVIGNON BLANC, NOBILO, NEW ZEALAND $ 13.75
MUSCADET DE SEVRE ET MAINE, LOIRE, SAUVION ET FILS $ 9.55
CHATEAU DE SANCERRE, MARNIER-LAPOSTOLLE, LOIRE $ 22.15
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu