Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Wise Wines

From the "I'm Dreaming of a White (Wine) Christmas" Collection

In the traditions of the wine world, the conventional wisdom has been that the real serious wines are red. Old wine books push the adage, “The first duty of wine is to be red.” And scores of wine connoisseurs wandered into Burgundy or Bordeaux, Piedmont or Tuscany. But the times they are a changing.

For all of my wishing, I have hoped to be one of those types, where red wine was placed high on an altar so I could too worship it. And I do love red wine. This evening we sampled an Etna Rosso next to a Chateauneuf du Pape. But I cannot get over how much I love white wine. I really have affection for cool, crisp, luscious wines. They seem to go with the foods I love and I never have enough of them around the house.

Here are three wines that I do hope to have around for the holidays. Please read on.


I met this wine in the Maremma this summer. Literally when I was on a hill watching the sheep grazing. Actually, when I came back home to the US and tried this wine, the Aia Vecchia Vermentino, I was stunned that the wine smelled exactly like where I had just been. The winery was a hop and a skip over the hill from where I was staying. Maybe there is something to this terroir business my French colleagues always tell me about. If so, this wine has it and for a wine that sells well below $10 on the retail shelves it’s nothing short of a revelation. Fragrant but firm bouquet, a little dusty and filled with sage like hints. Scratchy-dry and crisp on the entry, the bling of acidity ringing through the cave of the palate. Not overly alcoholic, refreshing and ultimately quenchable.

My white wine epiphany came from this wine, Damilano Arneis, during an outside concert, a Beatle’s Cover band was playing. I had made some of my Italian style baked chicken (breadcrumbs, Parmigiano and olive oil) and brought it to the picnic blanket. The band was playing “Love Me Do”, and boy did I love the combination of the chicken with the Arneis. The wine has this ethereal shimmer of slightly green hue, like the Marfa lights before the dawn. Absolutely out of this world. The fragrance is like a newly bathed baby, all cuddly and delicious smelling, you know, like when you just want to eat it all up? In the flavors, it is, medium-weighted, has good texture and fills the palate. But it doesn't over deliver. It is subtle, waiting for the palate to meet the precious juice. Very Continental and cool. And then the grand waltz, the marriage, when the food is matched. Like I said, there ain't nothing better than a platter of baked (or fried) chicken. Man do I love that wine. You can find it in the retail world for under $20.

Lastly, a wine I fell hard for this summer. From Apulia and the Li Veli winery. Like the hikers who accidentally found the 30,000 year old cave paintings in France a while back, so too, winemakers in Italy have been rediscovering some of their ancient patrimony. This wine is one of those survivors. I don’t know how to describe it, but when I tasted this wine it transported me into a time that could have been 500 or 5,000 years ago. It spoke of the Ages, it told all the stories the Ancients muttered in their time. It is a weighty solemn wine in what it holds but not in how it delivers. Cicero would have loved this wine. Hell, Cicero did love this wine! What else can I say? You may never find that beautiful Italian lover, the opportunity might be past or it might never be something you will ever have happen to you. But for under $20 you can have a wine that will love you and never, ever leave you.

The light is shining in the Eastern sky. The wines are waiting to present you with their gifts. Now, go get you some. Cheers!



1 comment:

Thomas said...

Verdeca: intriguing, and one that I have never encountered.

I'm jealous.

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