Looking for whites in all the right places

Laurent Fievet, AFP/Getty Images

as seen on canada.com

The big red chill offered a brief weekend respite from white wines but I’m still feelin’ hot, hot, hot. The sun’s arrow is pointed directly at my vinous heart so I’ve no choice but to bust-a-move towards a renewed search for thirst quenchers of the less-pigmented kind. These recently released great whites are waiting and willing to assist.

The grape: Sauvignon Blanc

The history: While perhaps not as versatile, potentially exciting and confounding as Chenin Blanc, this varietal outsells all else in the Loire. Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Touraine are the keys to the Loire’s success.

The lowdown: I can’t think of a blasphemic reason not to run out and buy this one by the dozen

The food match: Pan-Fried Pike in a Garlic Scape-Leek-Shallot Beurre Blanc

Domaine De La Colline Sauvignon Touraine 2010 (169656, $12.95) is the workday done sun-downer few Sauvignon Blancs can match for IVR* assurance. Eglantine and apple tisane. Bony and blanched shallot driven by the Loire’s rocky truffeau, with a smokey persimmon fini glacé.  88

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Owned by Raventos of Spain, famous for Cava, the name means “handcrafted” in their native Catalan

The lowdown: The iconic white varietal of Burgundy is many things and while the Artesa is not a California ween of bananas and blow, its none of them either

The food match: Chicken Shish Kebabs

Artesa Chardonnay 2010 (657585, $23.95) is an understated and capital if not a once in a lifetime example of cool Carneros. “Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground.” It talks to me in a voice I can understand and heads in a faint citrus, CVR** direction. Tropical with apricot and longan, but is neither heavy nor bloated.  89

The grape: Pinot Gris

The history: Pinot Noir variant, third most planted varietal of Alsace, behind Riesling and Gewurztraminer

The lowdown: A producer of pedigree and passion despite some contrarian and snobbish grumblings of a conglomerate nature

The food match: Grilled Tilapia in a Soy, lime and Rice Vinegar marinade

Trimbach Réserve Pinot Gris 2008 (971762, $22.95) is seductively Sauternes-like in its orange marmalade viscosity. An immense Gewurz-like PG. Off-dry tropical fruit, lanolin and a macadamia nut streak foils lemon, peppery orange and gold nasturtium. The edible florals are replayed in its sun-blazing technicolour.  90

The Splurge

The grape: Chardonnay

The history: Chablis has reached a peak in quality that to me began with this 2002 vintage. The mineral, steel and flint of great Chablis is so unique to Chardonnay

The lowdown: As good as Premier Cru gets. As good as most Grand Cru that cost a minimum 50% more

The food match: Bouillabaisse, or any fish stew with high quality fish and seafood

Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Les Lys Chablis 1er Cru 2002 (289256, $44.95) 10 years on is impeccably balanced, with dry-roasted nuts, steel-cut oats and brilliant Marigolds wrapped up in a bursting mineral package. The age is imperceptible, the poise uncanny. You won’t fond this for less than $50 in the US. This is a steal and will drink beautifully for 5-10 years more.  92

IVR* – Vintage Direct Intrigue-t0-value ratio

CVR** – Vintage Direct Curiosity-t0-value ratio

Good to go!

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