Friday, August 21, 2009

Italian varietals, California grown - Part 2 - White wines

As seen in the previous article, Italy has had a great influence on the California wine industry. Let’s take a look at some excellent representation of white Italian varietals.

The 2007 “Grigio e Bianco” from Carmichael Wines is light in color with a very floral bouquet and several layers of complexity. Notes of lavender and lanolin are mixed with with mango and sweet pea. It also contains herb and orange blossom tones and a clean, lingering lemon peel finish. The fruit is from Arroyo Seco in Monterey County.

The Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc (88% of the blend) were cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. The Chardonnay (12%) was fermented in neutral French oak barrels. This wine is ready to drink now or over the next 1-2 years. It pairs well with lighter pasta, fish and chicken dishes.

Laird Family Estates 2007 Pinot Grigio from Cold Creek Ranch in Carneros has a nice straw color and lively fruit aromas enveloped by rich coconut and vanilla. The palate exudes fresh flavors of apricot, peach and creamy orange temper- ed by green earth and straw. Lively acidity and a lingering finish make this wine an excellent match with many different foods.

The Carneros district is considered one of the world’s premier Pinot Grigio producing regions. The Cold Creek Ranch extends 300 acres along the Carneros Highway. This wine is ready to drink now and pairs well with fruits, salads and fish.

David Noyes Wines produces a great 2008 Tocai Friulano from Sonoma Valley. This wine shows bright acidity with aromas of honeysuckle, peach, and white pepper. Light on the palate, it has a slightly mineral finish. It pairs well with seafood, fruit and soft-ripe cheeses, or try it with popcorn!

“Tocai Friulano” is traditionally grown in Friuli located the Northeast corner of Italy. Since 2007, wines made in Italy from this grape have been known simply as “Friulano,” (or possibly “Tai” among the hipper set) because Hungary objected to the use of the word Tocai, fearing confusion with their native sweet Tokay wines. This varietal is also grown under the name “sauvignon vert” here in California and in Chile. As neither export to the European market, they continued to honor the grape's Italian roots.

A very refreshing wine is the 2007 Muscat di Canelli Frizzante from Benessere Vineyards in St. Helena. This semi-sparkling Muscat wine is pleasantly light-bodied and slightly effervescent, combining bright fruit, crisp citrus and floral notes. It is perfect for sipping on a warm afternoon and should be served well-chilled and enjoyed while young and fresh. This extremely versatile wine can be opened before, during or after any delicious meal. “Frizzante” means sparkling in Italian.

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