If you’re suffering from summer Chardonnay overload, here are few white wines — and new vareitals — that can pep up the palate for autumn.
• Pieropan Soave Classico 2016, $14.99 — Nino Pieropan’s 50th anniversary vintage is quite a knockout, scoring an outstanding 92 point rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine. For less than $15 a bottle at The Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, it’s an outstanding buy.
Soave is made principally from the native Garganega grape that excels in the Veneto region. Pieropan’s vineyards are located in an historic zone high atop a walled-in village outside Verona. The soils are a combination of limestone and volcanic rock, which produce a core minerality in the final product. This edition is a blend of Garganega (85 percent) and Trebbiano di Soave (15 percent). It delivers wonderful aromatics of apricot, lemon and crisp apple. The dry wine features stone-fruit flavors and the finish is pleasantly long. Try this with any white fish dish, cold shrimp
plates, mussels or linguini and clams.
• Pala I Fiori Vermentino, $12.99 — There’s a taste of Sardinia in every bottle, or at least I’d like to think so. While Vermentino’s best expression hails from the Ligurian coastal area of Italy, the House of Pala has nothing to bow down to in this delicious, dry white. Winemaker Mario Pala dedicated “I Fiori” (the flowers) to his wife Rita, and no man would do that if he knew the wine wasn’t anything but exceptional. This Vermentino seeps deep into the mouth with flavors of counry herbs, lime and balsamic notes. It’s tasty, smooth and refreshing. Try this with any white fish or white meat dish.
Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2016, $10.99 — Who needs to taste another Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, right? Well, I do — and if you want a bargain ,this is it. The vineyards are in Marlborough, close to the sea, and receive abundant sunshine and cool, night-time sea breezes. The grapes ripen at a steady, tranquil clip, and build crisp
acidity levels. Steel-tank fermentation guarantees the fruit’s purity of expression — mouthwatering grapefruit and other tropical fruit. There’s a hint of seasalt too that adds to the zesty profile.
Loveblock Sauvingon Blanc, 15.99 — This is mostly an organic farming wine made by New Zealand winemakers Kim and Erica Crawford, the original owners of the Kim Crawford label. Loveblock is now into its sixth vintage, and its a clean, crisp, creamier- textured sauvignon blanc that’s grapefruit flavorful and fresh. The wine is a blend of the best grapes selected from the Crawfords’ hillside vineyards in Marlborough. About 27,000 cases are produced annually. It should be noted that the Crawfords’ former Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, which was sold to Constellation Brands in 2006 for a total of $50 million, is now racking up sales of 1 million cases per year and is New Zealand’s No. 1 exported wine.
Nik Weiss Urban Riesling 2016, $14.99 – From the steep vineyard slopes of Germany’s Mosel Valley comes this delightful medium sweet Riesling that really shakes up the tastebuds. Now I am not one for sweet wines, but
Urban Riesling is a natural pairing for “hot” Asian and Indian dishes. It’s very aromatic in the glass and one sip leads you to the candy counter for tangerine, lemon and apricot gummy bears. OK, you get the point. It’s packed with flavor and has an enduring finish. The 9.5 percent alcohol reading is a tip-off that it’s bound to be on the sweet side.
Poggio alle Gaze dell’ Ornellaia 2016, $59 – The price is steep and I wouldn’t suggest this wine for every day drinking. But compared to costlier California estate Chardonnays, this Italian white blend from Bolgheri is incomparable in my estimation. It consists of Sauvignon Blanc (80%), Viognier (10%) and Vermentino (10%). Winemaker Alex Heinz strives for complex expressions and balanced acidity, both of which are achieved in this harmonious, dry and elegant wine.
The clusters are hand-picked and placed in small boxes then transported to a production cellar where they are immediately chilled to lock in the aromatic compounds. After delicate pressing, the must is fermentated in four separate vessels – barriques, steel tanks, concrete vats and oak vats. The wine is matured on its lees for six months (no malolactic fermentation takes place), and stirred regularly. After the final blend is assembled, the wine is bottled and rests for 12 months before release. A lot of precise work goes into Ornellaia, and the result is a compelling product. It’s very rich on the palate and the texture is dreamy soft. The sauvignon blanc comes through in vivid grapefruit and exotic island flavors while the Viognier lends a honeyed effect. There are notes of almonds on the finish. Heinz describes this wine as a “gift of nature” and there’s really nothing more to say. Watch for this wine to go on sale at New Hampshire State Liquor Store Outlets in October/November and combine it with a $25 discount coupon that you’ll find in this newspaper.