(Dry White Wines)
© by Sheral Schowe
"Give me a good, stiff, Chardonnay. I like them light and woody." What would a cross-dresser like Mrs. Doubtfire know about wine? Certainly enough to understand the style that would be enjoyable with a variety of foods, at whatever table he/she was sitting at for the moment. Dry white wines were meant to be enjoyed with food, but choosing the wrong style for your meal can prove disastrous.
For example, a Chardonnay that is "light and woody" obviously has some oak influence from barrel fermentation. Oak often imparts a buttery, rich texture and flavor. If you were to choose a dish that would be enhanced by butter, it would probably go well with a Chardonnay, particularly one from California. A classic example of one of the finest is ZD California Chardonnay ($27.05). The grapes come from cool coastal regions, hand harvested at full maturity, and fermented for ten months in small, toasted oak barrels.
The same grape, grown and fermented in completely different conditions can produce an austere wine that is as dry as a bone. French Chablis is exactly that. An affordable, widely available choice is the Verget Chablis ($16.25) which is full of mineral qualities, like wet stone, varietal characteristics, and a long lasting finish.
Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are wines which are better suited for fresh, chilled, herbaceous dishes due to the high, citrus-like, acid content. Any food that you would enjoy a squirt of lemon juice on, like cold shrimp, poached salmon with dill sauce, raw oysters and salads are all great choices for this style of dry white wine. You can find this style of wine literally around the world. Try the Amethystos Fume from Greece, or Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio ($12.95) from northeast Italy. Giesen Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($11.80) is from a cool South Island climate, south of Christchurch. New Zealand has really made a name for itself in the world of wines with this particular varietals which is so well suited for their climate. France is known for its Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire. Henri Bourgeois is a tenth generation family business that produces an excellent Sancerre ($15.45) from grapes grown in chalky, siliceous soils, which impart mineral and fresh herb aromas and grapefruit acidity.
Verdejo is a noble Spanish white variety. Martinsancho Verdejo ($11.95) comes from prephyloxera, bacteria-free soils, grown in gravel to a depth of over 30 feet. This wine, which is one of my favorites, is aromatic and flavorful with a crisp lemon tartness on the finish. If you enjoy dry white wines, add this one to your list. It will compliment a wide variety of foods, particularly seafood and poultry, and is enjoyable on its own. It is, in my opinion, one of Spain's finest dry white wines.
June 13, 2000