* A version of this column was originally published in Saturday’s on-line edition of the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Original and interesting white wines are always emerging in the market this time of year. And this spring I’ve noticed a continued effort by winemakers, importers and distributors to move beyond the old trappings of Chardonnay and other more prolific wines into offerings of lesser-known and more curious creations. These bottlings express fresh, lighter bodied wines and include new interpretations of wines from an obscure Rhone or southern hemisphere Gewurztraminer to a pumped-up Portuguese white.
Parents, teachers, coaches will all tell you the same: you’re never done learning. So when I opened a newer label of French wine named Marc Roman Terret, I had to quickly discover more about this unfamiliar grape. Sure I knew that Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines were blended. But I had no idea that one of those grapes (sometimes used in production) is Terret. The Marc Roman bottling may be one of the few if only 100% Terret wines in the market, but you shouldn’t dismiss it.
A great all-rounder especially for hot weather drinking, the Marc Roman possesses a salty oceanic zephyr essence and a minerality that make for a natural “fruit of the sea” pairing. I highly recommend it with some fresh halibut that’s been lightly rolled and pan seared in panko crumbs before being added to a tortilla filled with coriander chutney, diced vidalias, sour cream and a hit of lime juice.
The first thing that comes to mind, when one thinks of Chilean white wines, is probably not Gewurztraminer. In fact, the more popular locale for such a wordy wine is the old world strip of land between Germany and France known as Alsace. Still, the 2011 Miquel Torres Santa Digna Gewurztraminer is a surprising effort for a wine that’s not grown extensively in the southern hemisphere.
A minimal touch of sweetness, a cleansing finish and a mouth-full of stone fruit flavor make this wine a natural sparring partner for spicier food. Almost universally recommended with fiery Asian cuisine, Gewurztraminer like the Miquel Torres also matches up nicely with some plump gulf shrimp combined with buttery grits and spicy Andouille sausage.
I’ve often referred to the Portuguese wine known as Vinho Verde as a lite-beer lover’s wine. Its lower alcohol content, slight fizz and lighter body position a Vinho Verde to be a simpler white wine, that is both refreshing and easy-drinking. What I like most about my new favorite version, the Conde Villar Vinho Verde, is that it goes a step beyond the typical green-apple notes of the wine.
Recently, I blogged about the Conde Villar’s tropical tendencies. After an unexpected but ephemeral whiff of cotton candy aromas, the Conde Villar Vinho Verde exposes its equatorial inclination with some softened pineapple and guava flavors. Perhaps the quintessential pairing to most spring-fresh green salads, the Vinho Verdes like the Conde Villar also couple-up nicely with a plate of seasonal fruits from strawberries and pineapple to cantaloupe and honeydew.