Hello friends. This is the second in our “Constituent Services” series, where we respond to the squeaky-wheel list members who continue asking for more white and sparkling wines (and this month, I’m rolling rosé into the mix as well). Many of you know that I’ve shifted my own collecting/cellaring towards a higher proportion of whites and bubblies. They’re just so damned rewarding to age, and all it takes is a few years before they show signs of maturity, signs of tertiary complexity. They’re also fabulous, versatile food wines.
In February we offered a trio of wines, and of course once that offer went out, we were inundated by wineries and importers and distributors wanting to pour more of these categories. Poor us. We missed March (barely), so I’m taking the liberty of bumping our April Constituent Services offer to a full six-pack. We’ve just been tasting too many wonderful wines to trim this any further. Because we’re including so many wines, I will endeavor to keep each description short. Or shortish anyway.
2015 Mohua Sauvignon Blanc
This is the time of year when I start to crave the green pyrazine notes of Sauvignon Blanc, and nowhere are they more present than in SB from Marlborough (New Zealand). For the upcoming bounty of asparagus and fava beans and English peas, there’s nothing better than a grassy, funky NZSB. This is the best value SB I’ve tasted lately, offering wonderful sweet-pea/jalapeno green notes aromatically, paired to tangerine and mango fruit. The palate possesses plump, spicy fruit, complemented by a bright vein of limey acidity. There’s a real sense of palate-weight here, all on a moderate-alcohol frame. The last three times Tanzer has reviewed this wine, the phrases “good value,” “a lot of wine for the price,” and “a terrific sauvignon blanc value” have all appeared. You get the picture.
Wine Spectator (MaryAnn Worobiec): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD] 90pts.”
2016 Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé
Most of the best import rosés we taste are from where you’d expect – namely, Provence – but this German Pinot pink is a recent standout exception. There’s a loose connection to Washington too. Ernie Loosen, the German winemaker who collaborates on Ste Michelle’s Eroica Riesling program, took over this 1756-founded Pfalz estate in 1996, and ever since, the winery’s star has been on the rise. A nose of strawberry, melon, and cucumber gives way to an electric palate boiling over with acidity and a touch of dissolved CO2. There’s citrusy acid, cherry-pit bitters, and above all, racy nervy (11.5% alc) fruit. There’s real complexity and tension here for a twelve-dollar rosé. Pass the grilled salmon tacos.
2014 Latium Soave
My baby brain at work: I was sure we had already offered this wine, and ran every kind of search I could think of in our archives. Then Latium’s importer reminded me that they had been short on stock, so instead of offering it, I had just purchased a bunch for my personal stash. Oops! That was early in 2016, and we proceeded to guzzle this wine all last spring, summer, and early autumn. I was thrilled to hear that the exact same vintage landed again, and this time there’s enough to offer. This is a terrific example of the rewards of short-term aging for white wines. The aromatics clearly include some tertiary notes – hay and savory smoky notes – that pair beautifully with the core of alpine fruit. More of the same on the palate, which melds smoky salty minerals to focused fruit. Loads of character and presence on a mid-weight (12.5% alc) frame. I’m grew really fond of this wine last summer; it was the ultimate pairing with grilled corn on the cob slathered in butter and smoked sea salt.
2014 Dowsett Family Gewurztraminer Celilo Vineyard
This is the sixth vintage of Chris Dowsett’s Celilo Gewurz that we’ve offered. It’s a seminal Washington white as far as I’m concerned, and ages beautifully (I recently opened a bottle of the 2010 and was sending Chris drunk-happy texts by the end of the bottle). Chris has been making Gewurz in the northwest since 1996, and has been working with a 1984-planted block of Celilo fruit since 2003, making this 2014 his twelfth vintage working with this site. Over the years, Chris has developed a winemaking style best suited to Celilo Gewurz fruit. He ferments to near-dryness, but avoids the bitter notes that Gewurz can produce at complete dryness, and then he ages in neutral barrels to add richness and weight. The 2014 is as plush a version as I can remember, clocking in at 14.2% listed alc; this was a warm year in the Gorge. It offers super Gewurz aromatics – lychee and papaya and spice – and then this wonderful quality of fanning out and saturating the entire palate. Made for takeout Thai food.
This nabbed matching 90pt reviews from three diverse palates: Stephen Tanzer, Jeb Dunnuck, and Sean Sullivan. In the interests of space, I’ll limit myself to Sean’s review. Wine Enthusiast (Sean Sullivan): “The aromas explode with exuberant notes of lychee, rose water, pink grapefruit and spice. The palate is medium-bodied, drinking dry with a spicy and flowery finish. The balance is impeccable. 90pts.”
2015 Adelsheim Auxerrois Ribbon Springs Vineyard
Auxerrois is most frequently seen in varietal form in Alsace. It also has a long history in Oregon, with the first clones brought over in 1977, and Adelsheim has grown Auxerrois since the mid-80s and bottled it varietally, I believe, since 2003. There are only a handful of wineries producing varietal Auxerrois in the United States, so this is a tasty rarity. Single-vineyard, from Ribbon Springs in the Ribbon Ridge AVA, it clocks in at 13% listed alc and begins with a nose combining honeydew melon, chalky mineral, and a lovely lactic note of crème fraiche. I was especially charmed by the texture here, which has an attractive waxy mouthfeel cut through by a bright vein of acidity. This is a palate-coating white, with a fine sense of dry extract. I’d love it with any creamy soup.
2012 Dubreuil-Fontaine Bourgogne Blanc Les Crenilles
One of our most brutal allocations of the year so far was the only aged white Burg we’ve offered (2013 Perrusset Macon Villages). So I’ve been sniffing around for more, and here we have it. The only problem: this too was a limited parcel (I bought all of it), and this too could lead to brutal allocations. That’s the risk you run chasing the White Burg dragon. If the folks at Dubreuil-Fontaine were allowed by law to put Pommard on the bottle, they would, as the Les Crenilles vineyard sits entirely within the Pommard appellation. Alas, “Pommard” is only allowed for red wines, so this gets the more general Bourgogne Blanc naming, which also likely suppresses prices somewhat. Bully for us.
Les Crenilles dates to 1802 and is heavy on limestone (more good news). Vigneronne Christine Dubreuil (it’s a family estate that dates to 1879) goes for all fruit and soil here. There’s no oak used, and no malolactic conversion. It’s like a Pommard-Chablis lovechild. Listed alc is 13%, and this kicks off with a nose of peaches and cream, pineapple, mineral, and emerging tertiary tones of straw and hazelnut. There’s great plump fruit here (especially in the mid-palate), a wonderful acid-mineral spine, and real palate intensity. This just lights up the flavor receptors. Perfect for the earthy dungeness crabs that dot our waters.
Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of the Dubreuil-Fontaine, and we’ll do our best. Everything else is first come first served up to 36 bottles total, and the wines should all arrive in a week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.