Hello friends. For me and pretty much the whole FP team, white wine season runs from January through December. But there’s no denying that – as the calendar flips over from May to June – thoughts turn even more to delicious, refreshing white wines. To celebrate the beginning of summer, we have a six-pack featuring some of the best QPR wines we have tasted during the first half of 2015:
Vinho Verde from the Portuguese coast is mostly a grocery store category, offering semi-sparkling, (mostly) unoffensive wines. I remember in my early wine-drinking days, it was a first step up the ladder from the very bottom shelf, and a noticeable step at that. I may or may not have a short history of guzzling Vinho Verde from the bottle, in a hot tub. Who can say? This particular VV graduates from the warehouse shelves, where the 2013 was probably our biggest-quantity seller, and into the big time. This bottle just looks like summer, all green and refreshing, and the juice inside doesn’t disappoint. At just 10.5% listed alc, it’s eminently gluggable, a riot of citrus fruit and tree fruit, spritz and mineral, all clean and mouthwatering. Give this a nice deep chill and enjoy it for its palate-coating alpine character. I’ll be chugging this deck-pounder all summer long.
Treveri increases their already steep levels of badassery with the debut of their Brut Blanc de Noir, which comes 100% from Pinot Noir (note: they may have had a wine-club version of this in the past, but this is the first to be widely released). The label says Columbia Valley, but these grapes come entirely from cool Yakima Valley Vineyards, a lot of north-facing slopes inappropriate for ripening grapes for still wine, and pitch-perfect for ripening grapes for bubbly. It’s on the dry side of Brut, at 8 g/L dosage (most Bruts are in the 6-12 range). The wine spends nearly two years on the lees before disgorgement, and it clocks in at 12% listed alc. A wonderful nose kicks things off: peach and cherry fruit, brown bread autolytics, and a sweet green note like hay. The palate is rich and long, with plenty of Pinot character in the form of brushy red cherry fruit and creamy texture. An exciting addition to the Washington sparkling scene.
Michael Savage’s winery has been steadily building buzz the past few years, starting with the somm and wine-geek crowd and expanding from there. I suspect 2015 may be the year he breaks out into the mainstream, and a single-vineyard Sauv Blanc from a seminal Washington site certainly won’t hurt the cause. It clocks in at 13.9% listed alc and offers a nose with terrific Sauv Blanc typicity: the holy trinity of grass, grapefruit, and mineral. Steely and refreshing on the palate, it carries its crushed rock and citrus fruit on a rippin’-acid frame. This has real verve and cut, no easy achievement in a warm year like 2014. Sauvignon Blancs don’t come much better than this from the PacNW.
The Fevre family has been involved in the Chablis wine trade since before the French revolution. The family has had coopers, nurserymen, growers, and winemakers among its ranks. In the current generation, Gilles Fevre met his wife Nathalie at the Universite de Bourgogne while both were studying viticulture and enology. They founded their domaine in 2004, with Gilles handling the farming and Nathalie the winemaking, and it has since grown to encompass 100 acres in Chablis, 36 of which are Premier or Grand Cru sites. Their entry-level Chablis comes from parcels on the Côte de Fontenay that (fortunately for our respective wallets) sit just northeast of Grand Cru sites. Done entirely in stainless steel, this clocks in at 12.5% listed alc and offers a nose that caused me to start my note with a fanboyish “smells amazing.” But it really does, all seashell and salt air, flint and citrus. No surprise from the nose that this is proximal to Grand Cru vineyards. In the mouth, it’s a pristine, honest, transparent expression of Chablis’ special Kimmeridgian limestone soil. A wine like this, I find, just pierces me to my core, and in this taster’s opinion, waaaaay over-delivers for a low-$20s price point.
We actually offered an amazing Vinsanto dessert wine from Sigalas years ago, but I was surprised to see we’ve never offered their bread-and-butter Assyrtiko. From the Greek island of Santorini, from volcanic soils that have never sniffed phylloxera, from vines trained like a bird’s nest to protect them from the unrelenting winds of the island, comes this beauty of a white, one of Greece’s most celebrated wines (I believe it was among the first Greek wines to make Spectator’s Top 100 list, and three of the past five vintages have earned 92 or 93pt reviews from Wine Advocate). The nose mixes sea salt, lemon oil, and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines. The palate is all salty tang and alpine fruit; you just know this has been grown near the sea. Medium bodied (13.5% listed alc), with a plump leesy middle and lingering salinity on the finish, this would be tremendous with fried salty food. Or better yet: throw an octopus on the grill, get your best lemons and best olive oil, and crack a bottle of this.
Here’s what Mark Squires of Wine Advocate had to say about this producer a few years ago: Sigalas is one of Greece’s finest white wine producers – in fact, a short list candidate for the best. I would like to take credit for that conclusion, but there is not much dissent here. This producer is universally acclaimed for his skill with Assyrtiko of all types – dry, barrel fermented and sweet – and I can only climb on the bandwagon. Sigalas is simply a master with this grape.
Marie-Eve Gilla has such a deft touch with Chardonnay, and this is a gorgeous bottling year in and year out. Sometimes I wonder if it flies a bit under the radar because of its tweener price: not as cheap as the entry level crop of Washington Chards, nor as expensive as the old-guard (Abeja, Buty, Woodward Canyon) or the newbies (Ashan, Sixto). But the fact remains: pound for pound, dollar for dollar, this is among Washington’s finest, most consistent Chardonnays. In 2013 it comes from eight vineyards scattered across four of Washington’s AVAs, and it was raised in one-third new French oak, the remainder neutral. It clocks in at 14.1% listed alc and offers a lightly smoky, lightly leesy nose of plantain and peach fruit with hazelnut nuance. Balanced and polished, layered and ageworthy, this (as usual) delivers real charm and personality.
First come first served up to 72 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should all arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.