TOP 5 WINES February 2022- Age Worthy Whites
ValenWINE's Day is right around the corner.
One might assume a sommelier would focus on the pink drink for this holiday.
ROSÉ all day, or blushy bubbles?
Not this wine lady.
I thought I'd discuss what happens AFTER the first flush of romance-
the staying power of love.
It doesn't apply to all, but when it's right, your relationship,
like these wines, will have some serious shelf life.
Let's start with Domaine Huet.
I would be hard-pressed to find a better or more renowned Chenin Blanc producer in Vouvray, France. In 1928, WWI veteran Victor Huet purchased The Le Haut-Lieu vineyard (below left) and began his journey in wine. This vineyard is a parcel on the "Premiere Cote," or first slope, which is home to virtually all of the Grand Cru sites in Vouvray. When Victor's son Gaston returned from WWII, the family purchased two other Grand Cru parcels, and a legacy was born. The wines are sought after for not only their immediate consumption, but also their age-ability. The vineyards are farmed biodynamically, have been for decades, which was a first for many in the area. This particular bottling of Chenin Blanc is their most approachable at a young age. Fruit forward, full-bodied, and lush with notes of candied apple, pear, exotic flower, and racing minerality. It hits your pleasure center in your brain like ice cream to a baby, or for us, wine to an oenophile!
Consider this the immediate attraction wine, or love at first sip.
Who doesn't love a good comeback story?
By the 1980's, the white varietal Timorasso was nearly extinct in Piedmont, Italy.
Red grapes, specifically Barbera, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo, reign supreme in this region.
One grower, Walter Massa, noticed the native thick-skinned Timorasso, which he used to blend with his Cortese, may be better suited to his land. In 1990, after a few vintages fermenting and bottling the eccentric varietal alone, he replanted a vineyard entirely to Timorasso. Massa single-handedly revived the interest in this once forgotten grape. Today, other local producers, like Ezio Poggio (second from left) have noticed its uniqueness. Because of its thick skin, the Timorasso grape has great aging potential, sometimes reaching its peaks several years after release. It boasts a wild, floral nose and tastes of apple, apricot, and a touch of creamsicle or orange peel.
It's both obviously Italian and like no other Italian white wine.
I'm sure our Valentines are like no one we've ever met before!
The Mosel wine region in Germany is one of my favorite places on the planet.
The Mosel River slithers through the Eifel Mountains in every direction- forward, sideways, backwards... each time you think you know your direction, you're proven wrong. The severely sloped mountain sides are treacherous indeed, but the slate soil below is a portal to heaven for the Riesling vines. Obviously, all farming is done by hand. There is no way to mechanize or hurry due to the insane slopes. You're transported to a simpler time of pulled carts and rock paths.
The J J Prum family has farmed in Wehlen since the late 19th century. Manfred Prum, whom I've had the pleasure to meet and taste with in his home (center below) took over winemaking in 1969 and is now joined by his daughter Katharina. The Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, considered the most prestigious in Mosel, produces Rieslings that beam of sunshine, smell of petrol or struck match, and drink like your standing in a creek licking limestone and river rock... in a good way! This Kabinett (slightly sweet) is spectacularly bright and tropical, jam-packed with minerality and acidity, and finishes for days! There is no debating its longevity or its value. Of the 100 most expensive bottles ever purchased, J J Prum produced 4- one selling for over $5000 from the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard! This wine will always have a home at SOMM Wines.
This sweet wine is perfect for your sweetheart!
Our next love affair takes us to Alsace, France.
I'll call this the
"it's complicated" relationship.
This area is so unlike any other wine region, both in its history and topography.
From 1870 to 1945, the Alsace region changed hands
between France and Germany four times!
It contains 13 distinct soil types, more than any other region its size in the world.
Wineries follow the French AOC rules and designations;
however, their obsession with Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris feels so German.
It's easy to see how both countries impact these wines.
Sort of like a marriage... an arranged one perhaps!
Domaine Weinbach (pictured second right above) has farmed their land since it was sold as national property during the French Revolution in 1898. The Faller family has enjoyed generations of success making some of the most beautiful, layered, delicious white wines. They are austere, serious white wines. Nothing quaffable or simple in this Pinot Gris. It matches salinity with minerality, lanoline texture with racing acidity.
Aromatic florals flow into rich stone fruits.
It's complicated... in the best way.
I'm sure you're wondering if New World wines are as age worthy as Old World.
Yes, they are, but like every relationship, it depends on the people involved.
The story of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885 when Dr. Perrone, an Italian Immigrant from San Fransisco, purchases 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He terraced and planted the land, built the Monte Bello winery into the mountainside, and produced the first bottles under the Monte Bello name in 1892.
The land was all but abandoned after prohibition until six friends from Stanford University saw its potential, began buying up surrounding parcels including the original Monte Bello winery, and brought the land back to life. The first plantings were Cabernet Sauvignon. Zinfandel followed. Finally, they delved into white wine with their Chardonnay. Ridge values what they call "Pre-Industrial" winemaking. Less intervention. Native yeasts. Cover crop and organic composts. Co-owner Paul Draper was once asked what the most important device was in winemaking, he answered, "the wine glass."
This Chardonnay is robust. It delivers on all levels. The nose is sexy and intoxicating. The palate delivers flavors of baked apple, brioche, toasted bread, and caramel. It is formidable in its strength. This wine will develop for decades in the bottle.
Like some romances, maybe it needs a little time to see its full potential.
This Chardonnay will not only age gracefully, but it will also benefit from time in bottle.
Thank you for reading
TOP 5 WINES
I hope to share a glass with you soon,