This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, May. 14, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080514.php.
Australian white blend
In recent months I've reported on a number of white wines from around the world made from blends of grape varieties. Without going to the books for a rigorous analysis, it seems to me that white blends are a bit less common than blends of red grapes.
The great white varieties - Riesling in particular, but also Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc - tend to stand alone in 100 percent varietal wines; whereas red blends like the Bordeaux blends, Chianti and Super Tuscans tend to outnumber the classic red "monovarietals" like Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo.
Even the 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon that made Napa famous seems to be giving way to Cabernet-heavy blends that incorporate more than 75 percent of Cabernet and thus may bear the varietal name on the label, but often include a splash of Merlot or other varieties to round off the edges and add complexity to the flavor.
Once you get past White Bordeaux (and other international Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends), on the other hand, white blends mostly fall into niche markets - delicious but relatively little-known white Rhone wines or local blends of indigenous Italian grapes.
Some of my wine-expert pals shun most white blends, arguing that the mix of varieties "muddies" the resulting flavors to yield a result that lacks the clear, transparent purity of "monovarietals." Maybe. But one man's "mud" is another's "complexity." In support of the white-blend faction, I present today's featured wine, a delicious and fairly priced Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from Western Australia. My notes are below.
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"The Life of Riley" 2005 Western Australia Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ($14.99)
Clear straw color. Musky melon and a lighter whiff of lime. Rich-textured, mouth-filling, white fruit consistent with the nose - melons and pears and zippy lime - all wrapped up with bracing acidity. U.S. importer: Vine Street Imports, Philadelphia. (April 14, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Worked very well with pork chops sauted with browned onions and topped with melted Gruyere cheese and a bit of dry mustard.
VALUE: No complaints for a wine of this quality in the middle teens.
WHEN TO DRINK: Best drunk up over the next year or two.
For more, see the U.S. importer's fact sheet,
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To locate it in other countries, ask your better local wine shops, or check the importer's Website for distributors in most states of the U.S.:
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