2006 Montecillo Blanco

Over a couple evenings I drank a 2006 Montecillo blanco from Rioja.  This was made with viura grapes using cold fermentation.

I'd never heard of viura grapes; they're also known as macabeo or macabeu. This is what wikipedia says about them:  "The grape is used to make mildly acidic and young white wines mostly suitable for early consumption or blending with other varieties, both red and white. It is often the main grape of white Rioja and is sometimes blended in small amounts with Tempranillo and red Garnacha, both in unoaked and oaked versions. It was introduced in Rioja after the phylloxera epidemic, where it largely replaced Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca, partially because of the ability of its wines to better withstand oxidation."

I got this on sale for under $5, and I'm guessing it was marked down because it was getting a bit long in the grape tooth.  I found it pretty acidic the first night; I could have poured it over scallops and made a nice ceviche.  After a night in the fridge the acidity mellowed, and it was more drinkable, though no great subtlety of nose or flavor.

In short, aeration might help.  Drinkable if you like a wine that's got more of a bite, and it would go well with fish.

2008 Le Haut-Lieu Sec Vouvray

The last couple nights I've enjoyed a 2008 Haut-Lieu sec vouvray. This wine is one of the more expensive I've drunk, running about $32.

(sorry for the askew picture)

This is one of the finest wines I've drunk in quite a while.  My glass wasn't right to get as much of the nose as I should have gotten, but the wine has wonderful subtlety of flavor. I was trying to identify what a predominant note was, I was thinking butterscotch, but I read that these wines often have honey notes, and I think that was it.  Maybe a little vanilla too.  It had a mild acidity that hit the back of the throat and a good finish.

Wikipedia says of these wines, almost all made from the chenin blanc grape, "Most of the vineyards are planted on a plateau with a southern aspect facing towards the river. Viticulture and wine production in the region is dictated almost completely by the climate characteristics of a particular vintage with cooler climate years shifting productions towards dry and sparkling wines while warmer vintages seeing increased production of sweet and even botrytized wines. The harvest in Vouvray is often the last in France to be completed, potentially lasting until November. When sweet and botrytized wine are being produced, the harvest is often very labor-intensive, involving successive tries or passages through the vineyards with harvesters hand-picking only the ripest berries."

As far as the 'sec' designation goes, "[This is] the driest level with 0-0.4% (less than 4 grams per liter) residual sugar. Sometimes producers will specify their bone dry wines as Sec-Sec or 'dry dry' and their slightly less dry wines as Sec-tendres or 'gently dry.'"

The entry says that vouvrays age well and begin to really show their stuff in about 4 years, so I may have drunk this a year or two too early.  A 1947 vouvray from this domaine was #6 in a 2005 listing of the "100 greatest wines."

Although I liked this wine, I wouldn't put it in the top 5 or maybe even 10 wines I've drunk.  To give one example, and perhaps comparing apples and oranges, the Spanish syrah I drank earlier this year was better.  There was just something about this (the immaturity maybe) that made me think it left something (still) to be desired.

2009 Naire Verdejo

I've been drinking an $8 Naire verdejo that hails from around Zamora, which is not too far northwest of Madrid and directly north of Salamanca in central Spain.

I looked up verdejo grapes to refresh my memory, and wikipedia says they're often harvested at night, resulting in a wine that's "aromatic, often soft and full-bodied."

I would agree with the soft for this bottle, if my definition of a 'soft' wine is the same as the writer of that article.  Full-bodied not so much.  I found this Naire to be on the thin side.  It had more flavor drunk with food, but it seemed to get more acidic after a night in the fridge [it has a screw cap], a little too much so for my taste.

Not a bad wine for the price, but I've drunk other verdejos that I preferred.

2007 Casa Silva Reserva Viognier

I tried a 2007 Casa Silva Reserva viognier that I found on sale for under $10.  This was produced by one of the oldest estates in Chile's Colchagua Valley.

This is a light viognier but it has more substantial nose than the California Kunde I drank last week. It has more subtlety of flavor than a lot of the whites I've drunk this summer. I couldn't identify the notes but I think I got oak.  A nice wine, good for a dinner party or friends over.

2006 Kunde Viognier

I couldn't find any French or Spanish whites locally, so I picked up a couple viogniers to fill the gap.

The first bottle I drank is a 2006 Kunde Estates from Sonoma. The label describes the wine as "aromatherapy in a glass. Thick with the scent of jasmine and orange marmalade and accented by exotic spice."

I didn't think the wine lived up to its billing.  I liked it least of any whites I've drunk lately and didn't think it had any subtleties of nose or flavor.  Wikipedia says "Viogniers more than three years old tend to lose many of the floral aromas that make this wine unique. Aging these wines will often yield a very crisp drinking wine which is almost completely flat in the nose" so this might have been part of the problem, it was past its prime.  It was on sale for a reason.  Actually, I liked it better after a day in the fridge; it has a screw cap.

Probably in general Kunde is a better wine than this bottle.

2009 Loire Vouvray and 2007 Gavi

I threw in an odd Italian white this time because I was having trouble at my local Liquee Mart finding French whites, besides chardonnays, that I hadn't tried.

This 2007 Gavi from Batasiolo is made from Cortese grapes and hails from the northwest part of the top of the boot.  This is a grape I wasn't familiar with, so I looked it up on wikipedia:  "Wines made from Cortese (particularly those from the DOCG Gavi) have long been favored by restaurants in the southern neighboring port of Genoa as a wine pairing with the local seafood caught off the Ligurian coast. The wine's moderate acidity and light, crisp flavors pair well with the delicate flavors of some fish."  It's also an old grape, with records of it going back to the mid-1600s.

I like the wine, which I got for $15.  It was a little more acidic than other whites I've drunk lately, but it also had more nose.  I found it fruity; the label makes claims for pear and lemon notes, which I'd agree with.  My notes say it reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc.

The other wine is a 2009 Vauvion Vouvray from the Loire Valley, which ran me ... well, check out the picture.  This one's made from Chenin Blanc grapes and hails from the the Touraine district.  

This is a sweeter wine and not particularly acidic.  My notes say pear and vanilla and that it would go well with cheese and fruit, not red meat.  The bottle label recommends it as an aperitif or with dessert, so I guess I was on the mark.  Two very drinkable and enjoyable whites.