Wine Notes – It’s the Bomb!
White Wine and the Unusual Pairing
Are you an adventurous wine drinker? Do you challenge yourself to try different styles and pair them with unusual bedfellows, or do you simply reach for the Blackstone merlot and call it a day? It’s really easy to grab a cab every time you have steak, or a chardonnay when chicken is served. Those pairings are tried and true, but to truly enjoy what the wine world has to offer and to enhance your wine journey it’s important to dive outside your comfort zone and experience the unknown.
For me, getting out of the red wine zone is a chore. I generally think of wine in terms of the big reds of Napa, Tuscany, Barolo, Bordeaux and Burgundy, and I’m willing to try anything in the bold red spectrum. When it comes to white wine, I navigate to New Zealand for sauvignon blanc. As an exercise of adventure, I decided it was time to find some white wine excitement.
My journey began at my local state liquor outlet, a wine jungle with 6,300 different selections, or so they say. I figured I was bound to find something new and exciting there, but expected to be on my own when it came to shopping. Therefore, I chose the most scientific method and walked around the store looking for a white wine that wasn’t sauvignon blanc or chardonnay and was placed on a top shelf. No wonder I drink mostly red wine, I thought to myself. The selection of great whites on the top shelves was slim, and I wasn’t interested in any of the lesser quality options on the lower levels. One bottle, though, caught my eye. It was the tallest bottle on the shelf: a grand cru riesling from the Alsace region of France, produced by Domaine Specht. Grand cru implies the best in the region, and this selection was only $25. Often, rieslings are on the sweet side, which I don’t care for, but since it was coming from Alsace, I anticipated a quality dry wine. It turned out to be a fantastic selection with complex flavors of peach and citrus. I’ll surely buy more for my cellar.
I continued to walk, passing many familiar varietals before I found the 2019 Tenuta La Rocca Gavi. Cortese di Gavi is a grape variety that comes from the Piedmont wine region of northern Italy. This was a bright wine with notes of citrus and notable minerality. The next time oysters are on the menu, this would be a great complement. After finding only two suitable wines on my own out of such a large selection, it was obvious I needed some professional help.
One of my favorite wine professionals is Andrea DiFiore at Andover Classic Wines. I’m never shy to seek her assistance, and she has given me lots of great advice. I asked for some lesser-known white wine varietals that would be high in acid and food friendly, and she was quick to point me in the right direction. I was committed to try each of her four choices with whatever I was having for supper that week. I enjoyed the 2019 viognier from Le Paradou vineyards in the Languedoc region of France paired with a Buffalo chicken salad and blue cheese dressing. We had a 2017 fernao pires by Quinta Varzea da Pedra from Sanguinhal, Portugal, with gravlax and Italian cold cuts. And we had the 2017 Raventos de Alella pansa blanca (a xarello clone) with broccoli and pasta. It was great, but the paring I found most appealing with that wine was my Friday night steak bomb. Normally, I would expect a red would be the only way to go with steak, cheese, salami, mushrooms and onions, but since I was flooded with creative white wines, I paired this meal with the 2018 Can Feixes blanc seleccio penedes. This wine is a blend of four different white grapes: 49% parellada, 28% macabeo, 17% chardonnay and 6% Malvasia de Sitges. It was fantastic. Moving forward, I’ll be reaching for a glass of white wine the next time I order a steak bomb.
Next, I visited Michelle Skotz, who is a certified wine educator at WineNot Boutique in Nashua. She introduced me to a Sicilian grillo made by Baglio delle Fate, and a vespaiola from the northern border of Italy that’s made by Le Vie Angarano. My favorite was the 2017 Tercos torrontes from Argentina. This torrontes had a beautiful aromatic bouquet with notes of apple, peaches and grapefruit — a sure hit for any lover of sauvignon blanc.
This was truly a taste bud-opening experience, and I increased my white wine grape vocabulary to include vespaiola, grillo, fernao pires, parellada, macabeo, Malvasia de Sitges, xarello, and Cortese. Step away from chardonnay and expand your horizons with some of these fantastic whites from around the world. Salute!
Andover Classic Wines