Most wine lovers don't think twice about enjoying a red wine that's made from a blend of grape varieties. We're used to the idea of Bordeaux being made from a winemaker's-choice recipe involving mysterious amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and more. Chianti doesn't surprise us with its mix of Sangiovese and other Italian grapes. Australian and California cocktails of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (GSM) have their own appeal, and even the wacky blend of as many as 13 different grapes in Chateauneuf-du-Pape tends to tickle our palates.
For some reason, though, white blends don't spring so readily to mind. Give us a 100 percent Chardonnay, a Chenin Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling when we're in the mood for a white, and most of us are happy.
But sometimes it makes sense to blend white varieties, and for the same reasons: Often each partner in a mix can contribute an element that would be missing from a single-varietal wine, creating a whole that's worth more than the sum of its parts.
White Bordeaux is a classic example, a historic blend (just like its red sibling) that brings together disparate ingredients just as a cook fashions a recipe: Some Sauvignon Blanc to give leanness and acidity and a racy character. A ration of Semillon to provide body and texture. And a dash of floral Muscadelle to add intrigue to the aroma.
And so it goes, around the world of wine. Soave, from the Veneto region in Northeastern Italy, is made predominantly from the regional Garganega grape, but it gains weight and complexity with up to 30 percent of Trebbiano, Pinot Bianco or even, thanks to a modern liberalization of the wine laws, Chardonnay.
Australian producers have been blending Semillon and Chardonnay for generations to create a rich wine with more texture and character than either might provide alone. And in the U.S., although most producers have been slower to tackle blends, you'll see an occasional intriguing mixture, from the deliciously off-dry Caymus Conundrum to a wild assortment of whites that add a dash of Viognier to bring luscious floral character to a more humdrum companion.
We're taking on the topic of white varietal blends in this month's edition of Wine Tasting 101, our free online forum in which participants learn wine by tasting assigned wines and comparing notes with fellow wine lovers in an interactive group. You're invited to take part. To begin, all you have to do is visit
Now, here's an exceptionally fine white blend from the Margaret River region in Western Australia:
Leeuwin Estate 2001 Margaret River "Siblings" Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon ($12.99)
This crisp, dry white wine is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon, a formula akin to White Bordeaux. Its very pale straw color shows a brassy hue in the glass. A complex mix of aromas begins with a fresh and limey scent accented by appealing vegetal notes of wet grass, green olives and green peas freshly shelled from the pod. Crisp and tart in flavor, the first taste highlights snappy acidity, with an almost unctuous richness that develops on the palate and lasts into a long finish, with lime and green olive lingering in a long finish. U.S. importer: Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, Calif. (Aug. 3, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: The wine's "green" flavors, body and balance make it an unusually good companion with a veggie summer dinner of spaghetti tossed with butter and sage and a side dish of onions braised in a little butter with bits of broccoli and peas.
VALUE: Fine value at this price.
WHEN TO DRINK: It's difficult to predict aging potential, but its underlying body and structure suggest that it might gain richness in the cellar. However, it certainly wouldn't be wrong to drink it up soon while its luscious freshness remains at the fore.
WEB LINK: The winery's fact sheet on Siblings is here:
Wine Fundamentals DVD:
Wine Fundamentals DVD is a comprehensive tool for learning the essentials of the wonderful world of wine. The first wine DVD of its kind, Wine Fundamentals offers easy, interactive access to everything you need to know about wine.
If you're uneasy about picking the right wine for a special occasion, Wine Fundamentals can diminish your anxiety. As entertaining as a good movie and as informative as a solid reference book, it communicates the wine basics with efficiency and ease.
The DVD discusses wines from around the world with such renowned experts such as: Master of Wine Tim Hanni; Wine Spectator's Winemaker of the Year John Richburg, and Four Seasons San Francisco Sommelier Rom Toulon, who share their wine knowledge in an enjoyable and simple format.
Wine Fundamentals focuses on teaching the basics of proper wine tasting, how to read wine labels, wine production, how to order, purchase, serve and store your favorite wines and how to pair them with food.
The interactive DVD is easy to navigate, with a useful index and chapters on History, Wine 101, The Tastes and Flavors of Wine, Wine Tasting, Which Wines Do you Like?, It's All in the Label, Buying Wine, Navigating the Wine List, Serving Wine, Aging and Storing Wine, Making Wine, Wine and Health, and Food and Wine. Wine Fundamentals DVD also includes downloadable recipes, a Quick Tips section and a progressive wine list.
To learn all about this great DVD, and buy it on line, click now to
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Hot stuff!
I love hot and spicy food from all around the world. ... But as a certified, card-carrying wine lover, I have a problem: By and large, I don't think wine goes very well with curries or other fiery fare. So more often than not, when hot and spicy food is on the table, I'll pass on wine in favor of a cold beer, iced tea or dairy drinks.
But sometimes you just plain prefer a glass of wine, and most of the fire-eating wine enthusiasts I know aren't loath to experiment in pursuit of the rare matches of wine with spicy food that work. Riesling? Gewurztraminer? Zinfandel? Or sparkline wine ... who knows?
That's what we hope to find out in this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, as we ask the wine lovers of the world, "What's your choice with hot-and-spicy fare?" To cast your vote, simply visit the Voting Booth,
This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:
Bucko's Wine Reports: The hot summer weather has everyone looking for a cool thirst-quencher. Columnist Randy "Bucko" Buckner evaluates several wines this month that will take the edge off that parched throat and let a little steam out of your collar. Here's his tasting report on 100 new wine releases:
MoCool! The oldest and largest annual gathering of online wine lovers, the MoTown Cooperative Offline, is less than a month away, with a weekend full of wine and food events luring a crowd from around the world to the Detroit and Ann Arbor area in Michigan. I'll be there, and I hope you will, too!
This year's theme is "California Dreamin'," with the wines of California being the focus for an exciting Friday dinner, Saturday picnic and Sunday brunch. Mark Aug. 22-24 on your calendar, and for all the specifics, click to the MoCool Page on WineLoversPage.com,
There is no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than WineLoversPage.com.
Because we're not encumbered by the costs of producing a print publication or television program, our operating costs are relatively low, and this benefits our advertising partners in the form of rates that the traditional media can't deliver. And because we've been around the Web longer and enjoy wider readership than any other online wine publication, it's no surprise that advertising partners who've tried the competition tell us that the results - even from the big names in the wine-magazine world - simply don't compare.
If you're in a position to give advertising a try, or if you know someone who might, I'll be happy to provide more information. Just drop me a note at email@example.com.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
An organic favorite (Aug. 1, 2003)
What's wrong with fruit? (July 30, 2003)
The rule of real estate (July 28, 2003)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: "Burgundian" chicken with onions (July 31, 2003)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Aug. 4, 2003