We tried last night (11/28/12) Some Unusual Whites:
1. Cantorutti RibollaGialla DOC: ColliOrientali del Friuli (13%; www.CantaruttiFieri.It; www.Vinilandi.com)
S.Giovanni al Natisone 2009
: Light gold color; strong apple/pineapple/fragrant some stony/mineral bit spicy quite
attractive nose; fairly tart/lean strong appley/pineapple/fragrant slight candied bit stony/mineral quite nice
flavor; long slight candied/apple/pineapple light stony/mineral tart rather perfumey finish; speaks strongly
of Ribolla; most typical Ribolla of this bunch but a bit quotidian. $17.00 (LM)
2. Fantinel Vigneti Sant'Helena IGT: RibollaGialla delle Venezie (13%) 2008
: Med.gold color; slight pungent/SO2
rather ripe/pineapple/honeysuckle/floral slighht earthy almost Auslese or GrenacheBlanc/floral nose; soft
bit off-dry very floral/ripe/honeysuckle/GrenacheBlanc-like/pineapple/mango slight earthy flavor; long rich/
ripe floral/honeysuckle/GrenacheBlanc-like/pineapple/mango soft/very ripe/Auslese-like finish; lots of overt
ripeness and not much Ribolla character. $24.00 (BWM)
3. Ryme RibollaGialla VareVnyd/NapaVlly (13.1%) 2009
: Dark gold/burnished bronze color; strong orangey/
orange peel/orange blossom/dried mango/spicy some phenolic quite attractive nose; soft bit bitter/astringent/
phenolic ripe orange/orange peel/dried mango/overripe/rotted apples/old Muscat rich/lush bit cidery flavor;
very long/lingering rich/ripe/lush intense orangey/orange peel/dried mango/spicy somewhat cidery/tannic/
astringent/phenolic slight earthy very exotic/complex finish; no evident Ribolla character that I can pick
up; quite an exotic and stunning wine if you can think outside the box. $32.00
4. Arnot-Roberts RibollaGialla VareVnyd/NapaVlly (2.5 brls; 12%) 2010
: Light yellow color; slight earthy/metallic/
tinny slight floral/apple/perfumed talc slight pungent/sewer gas/reduced rathe light but pleasant nose; light
lean/tart/austere bit metallic/tinny slight floral/apple/perfumed talk rather pinched/eviscerated flavor; med.
long lean/tart/tight light floral/appley/mineral/slight hair oil lean/thin/eviscerated finish; interesting
"wine of balance" but rather tight/eviscerated w/ ample acidity; suspect it will be much better w/ 3-6 yrs
of age. Pretty pricey at $40.00
5. Ryme Vermentino LasBrisasVnyd/Carneros (Hers; 13.1%) 2011
: Light yellow bit cloudy color; very attractive
very floral/peach blossoms/Vermentino slight stony/mineral rather Ligurian-like but much more effusive quite
spicy/aromatic nose; tart bright/Vermentino/floral/peach blossom rich/lush slight candied/cotton candy/
bannana marshmallow lovely flavor; very long/lingering tart/rich/lush bright/peach blossom/Vermentino/cotton
candy some stony/mineral finish; a dazzling beauty that piroettes across the palate; somewhat Ligurian-like
but a richness and aromatics that speak of Calif; one of the best Vermentinos I've had; a steal at $24.00
6. Ryme Vermentino LasBrisasVnyd/Carneros (His; 11.9%) 2011
: Med.light gold/yellow slight cloudy color; some
orangey/phenolic/overripe peach quite perfumed/exotic lemony/limoncello rather complex nose; soft/lush rather
ripe/orangey/dried mango/overripe peach/stewed apples/orange muscat bit phenolic/bitter/astringent/tannic
exotic/limoncello very interesting flavor; very long orangey/dried mango/stewed apples/overripe peaches
slight floral/limoncello/perfumey bit tannic/phenolic rich/ripe/lush very exotic flavor; a very interesting
exotic ripe/lush wine that does not show much Vermentino character as I know it; not quite as tannic/phenolic
in character as the Ribolla; a really lovely wine. $32.00
7. CowanCllrs Isa LakeCnty Skin-Frmtd SauvBlanc (13.1%) 2010
: Dark gold/burnished bronze bit cloudy color; very
perfumed/exotic mango/orange/spicy/ginger/phenolic slight herbal/SB/earthy quite unusual nose that doesn't
speak much of LakeCnty SB (a good thing); tart some phenolic/bitter/astringent strong mango/orange/lemon bit
earthy slight herbal/SB very exotic/complex flavor; some bitter/astringent/phenolic strong orange/mango/ginger/
spicy light earthy/herbal/SB complex finish; only whispers of SauvBlanc and dominated by the exotic orange/phenolic
character of a skin-contact white; a very interesting/exotic wine that I liked a lot. $27.00
8. CowanCllrs Skin-Frmtd SauvBlanc SilverPinesVnyd/SonomaMtn (13.3%; www.CowanCellars.com; 15 cs) 2008
: Deep gold/
burnished bronze/bit browning color; slight oxidized very exotic piney/resiny/forest floor quite phenolic/
pungent/apple cider/orangey very exotic/complex nose; soft/lush/rich piney/resiny/mango/orangey bit earthy/herbal/
SauvBlanc fairly phonolic/cidery bit sweaty horses complex/exotic flavor; very long/lingering orangey/mango/cidery/
pungent slight earthy/herbal/SauvBlanc rather phenolic complex/exotic finish; a bit like an Amontillado sherry w/o
the oxidation, a bit like an Arbois w/ more richness/lushness; quite an interesting & exotic SauvBlanc. $26.00
9. AmaviCllrs Semillon LaCollineVnyd/WallaWallaVlly (89% Semillon/11% SauvBlanc; 13.9%) 2011
: Med.gold color;
somewhat earthy/stony bit appley/green olive/figgy slight smokey/oak nose; very tart/lean earthy/stoney/mineral
light green olive/figgy/Semillon bit dusty flavor; very long earthy/mineral/stony finish; not a lot of Semillon
fruit and mostly a stony/earthy character; much like a Savoie Roussanne or a Godello w/ more richness; a wine
that will probably go out 10 yrs or so. $20.00 (SC)
1. HarborWnry Mauro Calif Aperitif Vermouth (18.7%) NV
: Murky/brown color; strong raisened/pruney/LateHrvstZin
bit oxidized somewhat exotic/herbal/menthol/rosemary/pungent quite perfumed/complex nose; rather sweet strong
raisened/pruney/LHZin bit oxidized herbal/medicinal/quinine/bitter/dried herbs/menthol exotic flavor; very long
pruney/raisened/LHZin bit oxidized slightly bitter/herbal/menthol rather sweet finish; the raisened/pruney/LHZin
character dominates but a very interesting exotic character underneath; tastes like an overripe Zin that was
salvaged into a Vermouth; quite an interesting/complex wine. $22.00 (CB) TN of 11/28/12
2. HarborWnry Mauro Calif Aperitif Vermouth (18.7%; HandDecanted by DarrellCorti) NV
: Clear/dark some brown color;
very exotic menthol/VicksVaporRub slight floral/fragrant/Muscat bit woodsy/barky/wet-rotting forest quite
perfumed/complex nose; slightly sweet menthol/VicksVaporRub/medicinal/woodsy/barky/mushroomy slight floral/
spicy bit astringent/tannic complex flavor; very long off-dry woodsy/barky/menthol/VicksVaporRub/medicinal
some tannic/astringent complex finish; no signs of oxidation or overripe character; a rather complex/
interesting Vermouth. $14.00 (CB)
And the usual ruminations from TheBloodyPulpit:
1. Orange: This was a very unusual tasting of whites that spanned a pretty broad spectrum of winemaking styles. Some were
clearly "orange" wines (being white/gris made w/ considerable skin contact, but none made in an oxidative style
or "en amphorae").Well...spanned is not the right word, because there wasn't anything in the middle (a wine made w/
only a few days of skin contact). The distribution was more like Bi-Polar...orange/non-orange.
Tasting these orange wines is very/very tricky. If you taste them as "conventional" white wines and serve them
at "standard" white wine temperatures, they are often painfully astringent and phenolic in character. To put
a white wine in your mouth and then be hit w/ a tannin broadside can be a bit disconcerting. So it's very important
to serve them at room temperature to moderate their tannic/phenolic bite. Even then, the phenolic character can be
a bit strong. Will bottle age help that??? Don't have much in the way of data points, but I have to assume it will.
I followed these wines over about a 5 day period. The standard/non-orange wines didn't change a whole lot over
that period and pretty much retained their same character. The orange wines were sorta all over the map. I'd keep
going back to them and find something different each time. And I had to really struggle to come up w/ accurate
descriptors. They all seemed to have a kind of common character that I can only describe as "phenolic/cidery".
It appears that use of skin contact in white/gris wines tends to obliterate varietal character. Or, more
precisely, modulates the varietal character that we've come to recognize from non-skin contact whites. Maybe, with
much more experience w/ Jim's wines; I'll learn to recognize the varietal character of skin-contact SauvBlanc.
All the skin-contact whites in this group did not show the stark difference in varietal character that you'd expect
from non-skin contact whites. They had a high degree of commonality...namely that "cidery/phenolic" character.
Whither orange wines??? Well....they're quite popular w/ all the hippist somms these days. So, being one of the
hippist people around...guess I gotta like 'em, too!! They have received a rather mixed reception from the folks in
my tasting group. Some folks just sorta shake their heads in puzzlement when they try them. And others who can
think outside the box are coming to like their intrinsic character. Because of their tannic/phenolic character, they
are difficult to taste by and of themselves. Over the five days, I found them much more palatable when I was having
them w/ food.
Anyway...it's an interesting genre of wine and a very fertile area to be exploring if you're an adventurous
winemaker. By and large, I've liked the wines...some more so than others. And I will continue to try them. But they're
clearly not everyone's cup of tea.
2. Vermentino: This is, of course, the variety grown in Liguria/Tuscany/Corsica and a bit in SouthernFrance/Rhone
where it is called Rolle (a varietal name that is not recognized by the TTB in this country). Most of the Tuscan
ones I've had have been pretty unthrilling. I find many of the Corse Vermentinos just that...a bit on the coarse
and ruustic side. The ones I've consistently liked the best have been those from Liguria.
There have been some plantings of Vermentino in Calif. I've consistently liked best those of TablasCreek. There
have been a few that have impressed me that have come from Lodi (yeah...Lodi), particularly from Bokisch and
Odisea. Same as well from ElDorado (EdmundsStJohn) and Amador, as well.
This Rhyme '11 (Hers) is probably/maybe the greatest Vermentino I've yet had...from anywhere. It had such amazing aromatics
to it...yet that underlying stony/mineral character that makes Vermentino so good. The LasBrisas is easiest the coldest
Vermentino planting in Calif...maybe the world (there may be some along the Ligurian coast that are colder). Owned
by FrankMahoney, who also makes a Vermentino under his MahoneyVnyds label. I also liked the (His) quite a lot as well..
but for different reasons, even though I couldn't find much in the way of Vermentino character in it.
3. Ryme: This is a collaborative effort of Ryan & Megan Glaab. Ryan is the asst winemakerr at WindGap, where I believe
he makes his wine. I first met Ryan at the NEB#1 get-together at WindGap, back before they started their Ryme label.
I then met Megan and Ryan again at the FriuliFest#1 and #2 events, since they make RibollaGialla. Ryan is very much
interested in the orange wine genre and has made several in amphora that he had specially built for him. These are
made more towards the oxidative side of the orange wine spectrum. All in all, Ryan&Megan are making some very interesting
wines that I find pretty exciting. And they're neat people, to boot.
4. CowanCllrs: This is, of course, the effort of Jim & Diane Cowan. Also known as FloridaJim... to those of us who have been
hanging out on the InterNet since its seminal/pre-AlGore days, when it was driven by vacuum-tube IBM 650's and Univac 30's.
5. Mauro: This is a vermouth that was made (salvaged?) by CharlieMyers/HarborWnry some yrs ago. The wine was originally
(very old-vine) BlackMuscat from ChesterEschen's (now Rinaldi) vnyd over in Fiddletown. My guess is that is was a wine
that sat around too long in barrel and Charlie salvaged it by adding various & assorted herbs & stuff to convert it into
a vermouth. I had bought the original (tasted on 11/28) some 5-6 yrs ago from DarrellCorti and had just now got around to
opening it. When I sent my TN to Darrell, he was convinced that I'd had a bad btl that a cork failure had compromised.
So he hand decanted another btl for me to try and sent it under a screwcap. This 2'nd btl, though still obviously an old
wine, seemed much more fresher and alive and interesting than the one we first had.