Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday White Wine Blogging

Maybe it's my politics leaking into my taste, but I generally prefer my wines Commie red as opposed to whiny white. There just seems to be more going on in reds, and while I admire anything that can get over on subtlety, I'm a sucker for big flavors that you can more easily find in a Zinfandel or Syrah, say, than a Chardonnay. It doesn't help that Chards have become dairy products at most California wineries--oaked to the point that they're all about butter. You'd think they would go better with popcorn than fish. (I do want to admit that I have become turned on to Rieslings, particularly those from J J Christoffel or Dr. Loosen, and Gewurztraminers, particularly those from Navarro and Lazy Creek, which isn't getting very far into the mix, I know, but if I like those and my Thai food likes them too, I don't need to explore too much. We'll leave Viogniers for another day's discussion, but as you can see, my ironclad "no whites if I can help it" stand has been undermined of late. Also note most of the white wines I like provide their own drunk test: when you can no longer spell them correctly you have to cut yourself off.)

That said, Amy and I opened a bottle of Chardonnay this Saturday that was one of the best wines--yes, that's a color-blind comment--I've ever had. Let me introduce you to the Williams Selyem 2002 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay, and you could probably shake its hand as it had that much muscle, that much tone. It poured a perfect gold--it's what I'm hoping the bottle of Chateau Y'Quem I half own will be like when that gets opened. It's nose was a little exotic, suggesting places far off it could promise to transport you to, but it also smelled a bit of creme brulee, that caramel cooked to a secret better sweetness with some vanilla adding its own seductiveness.

The good news is we got to drink it, too. Just as only the best red wines do, this white seemed able to push your taste buds around so they would get the best view as it paraded by. It taught you how to like it, not that liking it could ever be in doubt. So full, so rich, stone fruits and citrus all there but balanced like some Leonard Bernstein had them under baton control. This lasted, and lasted some more.

It helped dinner was worthy of this feast in a bottle, as for something different we didn't go to the Hungry Cat. Nope, we cooked at home, from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques (her Sunday is our Saturday, I guess), and thereby kept it in the cool cat family, given Goin is married to head Hungry Catster David Lentz. There's a recipe for ricotta gnocchi with mushrooms and fresh corn in brown sage butter in the book and it was the first week for corn at the farmers' market, so what else could we do? BTW, if you have the cookbook, cut out the breadcrumbs, which just make things gritty to our tastes, and you can sub in oyster mushrooms for the chanterelles that are called for, if you can't find chanterelles or a loan to buy them.

After dinner I dug out the Williams Selyem newsletter for the Heintz release only to read Robert Parker's review that concludes, "This is one of the greatst Chardonnays I have ever tasted from California." Amy and I concluded we don't need no Robert Parker to know a brilliant wine, even when it's white. Sadly, I don't have another bottle of Heintz (I'll pass on the ketchup joke), not even from a different vintage. Then again, I'd hate to become one of those white wine drinkers.

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Blogger Mike said...

I too prefer red (and prefer beer to both), but a really good Riesling, or even an excellent Chardonnay can be great.

I had a spectacular Chardonnay about 15 years ago in a restaurant in Venice (California, not Italy). One of the best wines I ever had. Just amazing full-bodiedness and flavor for a white.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Jami said...

Makes me want to pop a white right now in my office at 8:51 a.m.... Thanks for the post George. I have a close friend who works for our local publication Touring & Tasting and may be able to score some of this nectar. I'll look for it.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Cookie Jill said...

We will be seeing you at the Santa Barbara Wine Festival on June 30, won't we? ;-)

8:55 AM  
Blogger George said...

Mike--You were in CA and you didn't call? Oh, wait, I wasn't in CA then.

Jami--It's good to see we can put politics aside and agree on something. From what I've seen there are bottles available on the web, but it went from expensive ($40) to pricey on auction ($60+).

Cookie Jill--I'm thinking about it, but that's the 4th weekend so you never know if travel happens.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

As a Zinfandel/Shiraz/Cabernet/Reisling fan myself, I will have to check out the Heintz Chardonnay. And you better not be exaggerating!

4:32 PM  

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