2012 Crios Torrontes and 2011 Creekbend Traminette

Today 2 wines pretty different from one another: a 2012 Crios Torontes from Argentina and a 2011 Creekbed Tramiette from Oliver Winery in southern Indiana.

The tramiette first.  This is basically a Gewurtz clone.  According to wikipedia, it "is a cross of the French American hybrid Joannes Seyve 23.416 and the German Vitis vinifera cultivarGewürztraminer made by Herb C. Barrett ca. 1965 at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. His intention was to produce a large clustered table grape with the flavor of Gewürztraminer. Traminette was found to have excellent wine quality, combined with good productivity, partial resistance to several fungal diseases, and cold hardiness superior to its acclaimed parent, Gewürztraminer, while retaining a similar character."

The Indiana wine grape council has named tramiette the signature wine of the state.  Not to be cynical, but who lobbied for that?

Anyway, it was sweet, as you'd expect, but very drinkable, not cloyingly sweet.  It had some of Gewurtz's funkiness but that wasn't overwhelming.  It's not a wine I'd drink all the time, as I'm not crazy about sweet wines, but it had nice flavor.

The torrontés is from the Mendoza wine-growing region of Argentina.  Wikipedia says about this grape:

Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromaticwines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and mouthfeel as well as distinctive peach and apricot aromas on the nose/ Three Torrontés varieties exist in Argentina: Torrontés Riojano, the most common, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino. It is primarily Torrontés Riojano that has received attention for the quality of its wines, and is the variety used for most Argentine wines simply labeled Torrontés.

The three grapes are relatively similar but do have some noticeable differences. Torrontés Riojano and Torrontés Sanjuanino both tend to have large loose bunches of pale grapes while Torrontés Mendocino, however, has smaller, tighter bunches of darker yellow grapes. Torrontés Riojano is the most aromatic of the three, with aromas reminiscent of Muscat and Gewürtztraminer wines. The least aromatic, and least widely planted, is Torrontés Mendocino with the aromatics and plantings of Torrontés Sanjuanino falling in between. All three Argentine Torrontés varieties belong to the Criollas group of grape varieties, which is a term used for presumably American-born cultivars of the European grapevine Vitis vinifera.

This was on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Indiana wine, drier though with some sweetness to it.  Definite citrus notes, maybe grapefruit, lemon, perhaps a touch of vanilla.  This reminded me of Sancerre or Loire wines.

The torrontés would go well with chicken, maybe a sauced pasta, Southeast Asian cuisine.  I liked it, had to keep myself from drinking the whole bottle in one sitting.

2009 Clos Robert Chardonnay and 2011 Burgans Rias Baixas

Two whites this last week, a 2009 chardonnay from Clos Robert in Mendocino County north of San Francisco and a 2011 Burgans Rias Baixas from Spain.

I've got to say I'm having a complete mental block on the Spanish white at the moment except that it was a screw top.  I couldn't tell you if it was sweet or dry if my life depended on it.

It's made from the Albariño grape. which is popular in the northwest of Spain.  Some think it's a riesling clone.  Wikipedia says that "The grape is noted for its distinctive aroma, very similar to that of Viognier,Gewurztraminer, and Petit Manseng, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5–12.5%.[3] Its thick skins and large number of pips can cause residual bitterness."

The chardonnay on the other hand is my second bottle from that grape in the last couple weeks.  I liked this one better than the first one: less oaky, less vanilla, a little drier.

It's a little more complex than the other chardonnay.  The label claims peach blossoms, apricot, and green apple; I'm not sure I got all of those (what does a peach blossom taste like?) but it wasn't bad.  The label also says that it's more in the French Burgundian chardonnay style.  I'm not expert on that, but since the oak is so much less prominent, I can probably see that.

Both were nice wines and very drinkable with a summer meal.

2009 Edmond Rentz Pinot Gris and 2010 Giacomo Vino Bianco

Two wines today:  a very sweet pinot gris from Zellenberg in Alsace and a white blend from Tuscany.  The pinot ran me $14 on sale; the white blend was $10.

The Edmond Rentz grand crus pinot is from Froehn, a vineyard in Zellenberg.  Here's what the vinalsace.com web site says about it:  "Situated on a knoll of calcareous sandstone, Zellenberg, a small winegrowing town to the east of Riquewihr, dominates a fine vineyard. Facing south-south-east, the 14.60 ha Frœhn lines the steep hillside at 270 to 300 metres of altitude. It is a marl-clay soil, made of dark grey schistous marl, showing some small white calcareous layers and also some carbonated and iron rich nodules. The Frœhn favours the cultivation of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. In his work of reference, Médard Barth cites the Frœhn as one of the finest vineyards of the period. Frœhn wines are noted for their fruitiness and full flavour. Their richness confers excellent ageing potential."

This is the sweetest pinot gris I've drunk, more along the lines of a riesling than an Italian or Californian pinot.   It was good, just very sweet.  Honey notes, citrusy, maybe apricot.  The notes at Invino suggest drinking it was scallops but I can't imagine that.  Lobster maybe since it tends to be sweeter.

I looked up the Giacomo and there's no description of what goes into the blend.  I'd guess a lot of pinot.  It's a drinkable, pull out to drink with the chicken, nice middle-of-the-road white.  For $10 it's worth it.

2008 Dona Paula Viognier and 2009 Clos du Bois Chardonnay

Combining 2 whites today, a 2008 Dona Paula Naked Pulp Series viognier from the mountains of Argentina and a 2009 Clos du Bois chardonnay from the Russian River.  The viognier was part of a mixed case; the chardonnay ran me about $14.

I like viognier, and I had to hold myself back from finishing the whole bottle of this in one sitting.  A very fragrant wine.  The label claims notes of apricots, orange peel, and flowers, which I'd agree with; flowers are what came to mind drinking it.  They also ascribe a "high natural acidity" to it, which I'll agree with, but it wasn't too much to the acidic end of the spectrum like in some whites.  I bet this would go great with SE Asian cuisine or maybe lobster.

This is my first chardonnay in several years actually, as witnessed in part by the fact that I didn't have a chardonnay label here yet.  It's not that I don't care for it, I just tend to avoid it since it used to be my Go To white ordering in a restaurant.

This one is in Clos du Bois' Calcaire series.  What struck me on the first few tastes was vanilla -- lots of vanilla notes.  Also that after a night in the fridge (cork) the rest of the bottle had already lost a lot of the initial notes.  The label claims green apple, white peach, mandarin, and spice.  I can't distinguish all those in a glass of fruit juice; it seems a stretch catching all of them here, but everyone's palate is different.  A nice chardonnay, but as I haven't drunk one in a while, I'm not in a good position to make comparisons at this point.