The New Year to most people presents an opportunity for a fresh start.
It is a time to break old habits, plan to lose weight and exercise more; all of which are politely forgotten by the end of the week.
To wine lovers, it is a new vintage year to look forward to and a chance to reminisce on the fine wines you enjoyed during the past year.
Might I suggest a simple New Year's resolution that is both enjoyable and easy to keep; try some wine varieties that you have never tried before so I would like to make a few suggestions?
First up is an interesting white wine variety from Spain, the Albarino that was often overlooked by vintners because of its very finicky behavior. Again, it was modern farming that has tamed and tempered this grape and has resulted in an exceptionally fine wine. The variety displays the elegant aromatic aromas of citrus, white summer fruits and the sensation of fresh cut flowers. The flavor is ablaze with apple, peach and pear all backed up by a noticeable citrus after taste. The finish is long and fruity, ending with a note of lemon peel. This is an excellent variety, which will expand your wine horizon way past that of the other common white wines. Two Albarino wines which I recently tasted and definitely impressed me were the Attis 2018 Albarino ($16) and the Burgans 2017 Albarino ($12), both of which were about as true to the style as one can get.
Next up is my favorite white wine, Viognier. Viognier was the most prized and expensive white wines in the world, whose reign came to a crashing end with the Great Wine Blight of the late 1800’s. When a cure for the blight was finally found and because the Viognier grapes were so hard to grow, the variety almost totally disappeared. The variety was resurrected in the late 70s by grape growers of several nations, most specifically the United States and South Africa. Today Viognier is finding new converts every day. The wine displays a haunting, expansive, room-filling aroma of wild flowers, honeysuckle and tropical fruits giving the impression of sweetness, however, the wine is totally dry. The flavor is not as big as is the aroma, but more subdued and fruity, accenting the flavors of apricots and peaches with a hint of vanilla in the background. The finish returns the floral sensation and is incredibly long for a white wine. Viognier is one of those wines that will go with almost any food that calls for a white wine and even some that don’t. It can almost be called the Zinfandel of white wines because of its ability to accompany anything. Among the Viognier wines that I have sampled is the Cline North Coast Viognier 2018 ($15) which is a picture perfect example of the variety.
Where there is white wine, there will surely be red; and so there is. In this case, not only is there a fine red wine but an equally fine mystery as well. First I will do the wine and will save the mystery for a surprise ending. The wine is the Plavac Mali, which is dry deeply colored red wine that prominently displays the aroma and flavor of raspberries and plums wrapped in a whisper of oak, ending in a dynamic blast of summer berries. And now for the mystery; the Plavac Mali is native to Croatia but recent DNA tests have proven, beyond any doubt, that the Plavac Mali is the same grape as (drum roll) the good old American Zinfandel. While they are the same grape the place where they are grown and the winemakers’ hand make a big difference in the final wine. From its homeland of Croatia comes the Grgich Vina Plavac Mali ($54), a dry red wine that beautifully displays the classical style in the aroma, flavor and the finish. This wine may be costly but it is well worth it.