Thursday, October 11, 2012

another look at sauvignon blanc and oak

2007 R de Rieussec2007 Chateau Ferran Blanc
2009 Jackson Triggs Gold White Meritage2008 Stratus Sauvignon Blanc

So turning things around, attitude adjustment.  Constantly moping is not an attractive quality, for anyone.  Trying to think of a wine I'd love to be drinking more of (and have more in the cellar) - dry white Bordeaux, or in the New World, the oak-aged style of sauvignon blanc.

My first taste of this kind of wine was a bottle of 2005 white Graves, a simple wine I had picked up while I was still studying in Waterloo.  With no preconceptions, I was completely blown away by how unique it was - the sharp aromas of the sauvignon, the texture from the semillon, the incredible levels of extract and concentration on the palate.  A seriously impactful wine, and one that completely changed my views about how stunning oak can be, when used judiciously.

I got more of an in-depth look at these wines during the annual UGC tastings: UGC 2008 white Bordeaux, and UGC 2007.  For both these vintages, these were some of my favourites.  Racy and pure, concentrated and structured.  That oak works so well, lifting up the grassy, herbal sauvignon aromas.  And to think, only 50 or 60 years ago, some areas of Graves and Pessac-Léognan had more acreage of white grapes than black.  They drink well young, and have all the acidity and structure to age - I've put away a few bottles, starting with 2007 Bordeaux, which I think is a very successful vintage for the whites, dry and sweet.  Eric Asimov of the New York Times wrote a good article about these wines a while back - very much worth another read.

There are a few examples now coming out of Niagara that I find exciting as well.  Top of the list is Stratus, who is very faithful to that Bordeaux model of sauvignon.  Most of these wines are referred to as White Meritage here, not the Fumé Blanc the Californians use.  Whatever the name, we're looking for the same things, namely: sauvignon aroma, acidity, and density on the palate.  These wines, at their best, feel alive in your mouth, just full of tension and energy.

So why don't we drink more?  At the UGC tastings, the red wines get all the attention, followed by the sweet whites - why doesn't anyone talk about vintage conditions with respect to the dry whites?  It's almost a shame that when people think of sauvignon blanc, that taste of New Zealand's slightly sweet, almost shamelessly fruity style comes to mind.  Those are fine and all, but there are other styles of sauvignon too.  We've got to explore, my friends.  Bordeaux isn't just about expensive red wines and sauvignon blanc isn't just about lightweight mommy juice.  Really looking forward to seeing how these age - all the elements for ageworthiness are there.  In the meantime as we wait, there are lots of sub-$20 bottles that are delicious to drink now.  And now that shellfish - oysters (!) - are coming into season, what better time to start looking out for these wines.  朋友们, happy drinking!

DF

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