Tuesday, January 29, 2008

French Whites - Hit or Miss

This past weekend I opened up a couple bottles of French white wine. I thought they would pair well with a dinner I was making and I was right. While it's true that I much prefer red wines to white I have been trying to expand my palate to include interesting and unusual wines. I am getting tired of the usual California white wines. Never been a CA chardonnay drinker. I enjoy New Zealand sauvignon blanc now and then, but even that is getting old now. I want to find more refined, more complex, less sweet and less acidic whites to go with food.

I love Alsatian rieslings. Mostly for the fact that they pack unbelievably complex flavor in a nice dry white wine. I much prefer this style to sweeter style whites. The best one I can find locally is produced by Arthur Metz and comes under the label of Cuvée Anne-Laure. I have had previous vintages and found them full of interesting flowers and fruit. This was the first 2006 that I have tried. It was certainly different than previous vintages in that the floral notes were less apparent (though there) and honey predominated on the nose and on the palate. I could detect aromas of melons and, believe it or not, juicyfruit gum along with the honey. It wasn't sweet at all which I liked very much. I served this with some ham wrapped melon balls and it paired very nicely. I would say I was a little disappointed in the way the honey overpowered and I think I prefer the 2005 over the 2006. Never the less it is a solid effort from Asace.

Ah, Chateauneuf du Pape! I adore Rhone wines. I had a bottle of the 2003 Eric Texier Chateauneuf du Pape blanc about a year ago and I have very fond memories of it. A gorgeous dry fruity Rhone white that was extremely food friendly. When I made a chicken and cheese soufflé on Sunday this is the wine I had in mind. Unfortunately my expectations fell short when I found the bottle was flawed. I had a feeling when I pulled the cork that it would not be ideal. The cork was brittle and you could tell that the wine had seeped all the way to the end. Not a good sign. The bottle wasn't ruined but it was certainly off. It had a slightly floral nose with eucalyptus aromas. I could also smell ethyl acetate indicating that there was something amiss. The wine did have some very nice flavors of pears and dried apricots that were unfortunately covered up by a bitter off taste that I would compare to a saccharin aftertaste. So, this one was a miss. I know this is usually a solid solid white wine and will definitely seek it out again.

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