11/08/12 – Harvest Whites, part 2 (a touch of sweetness)

By Jesse on November 6, 2012

Two weeks ago, we met at Adra’s place for part one of our two-part “Harvest Wines” tasting series, in which we assembled a lineup of full-bodied whites to pair with cooling fall temperatures.  Admittedly, a couple of the bottles missed the “full-bodied” mandate by a few pounds: an Italian Verdicchio proved light and limey but distinctly un-heavy, while Santa Ynez Grenache Blanc that I contributed was lithe and acidic — a solid food wine, perhaps, but a poor choice for drinking solo while watching college football on a chilly fall afternoon.  Once we got into the Viognier, the Rhone-style blends, and the California Chardonnays, however, we definitely began to hit that rich, aromatic, full-bodied sweet spot.  (The QPR winner of the night was the 2011 F. Stephen Miller “Angel’s Reserve” Viognier from Lodi, which retails for only six bucks.)

Speaking of sweet spots, we’re turning our attention this week to the other side of the “harvest whites” coin: wines that satisfy the sweet tooth.  Whether it’s an unctuous dessert wine to wrap up a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, a serviceable German Riesling to share with someone special in front of a roaring fire, or a really excellent German Riesling to drink by yourself in front of a roaring fire, sweet wines — especially when paired with cool temperatures — are a welcome change of pace from the acid-driven, thirst-quenching dry wines that we crave during the summertime.  This week, in what’s become something of an annual tradition, we’re breaking from our usual habit of meeting in member apartments and instead descending on the tasting bar at Vendome Wines & Spirits in Studio City.  I’ve picked out all of the wines from Vendome’s selection, so no need to contribute any wines of your own this week.  (Additionally, all of the wines featured in the tasting will be available for purchase at a 10% discounted rate off the regular price.)

riesling-wine-grapes-in-autumn-near-kiedrich-rheingau-hesse-germany.jpgThe wines that we’ll be drinking run the gamut from oh-so-slightly sweet to unapologetically and indignantly sweet, and one of the grapes that exists in both of those forms (among others) is Riesling.  “Rethink Riesling” was one of the strategies I plugged two years ago in a blog post entitied “Wines for a SoCal autumn,” in which I suggested a few seasonal wine themes to pair with the slightly-lower temperatures we get to enjoy this time of year (you can read the piece here).  There are crisp, off-dry Rieslings that drink nicely on those warm, still-feels-like-summer days, and then there are late-harvest Rieslings so lush and deep that they obviate the need to order dessert.  (Just look at that photo of golden Riesling grapes, bursting with juice, waiting to be picked on a cool autumn day.  Doesn’t it just make you want to pull on a woolen hat and gloves and go drink yourself silly on a windy farm road with bright orange leaves falling all around you?  Me too.)

Other wines that will make appearances will include Vouvray, made from Chenin Blanc in France’s Loire Valley, which is also vinified in both dry and sweet styles; Gewurztraminer, a French and German grape that produces vibrant, fruity wines; Sauternes, that storied French dessert wine, made from Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, which is among the most age-worthy in the world; and several other surprises.  Anyone skeptical of the idea of “sweet wines” in general is encouraged to come out to this tasting, where I hope and expect that your preconceived notions about their drinkability will be dispelled.  (Plus, there’ll be delicious cheese.  ‘Nuff said, right?)

This week’s tasting will be held on Thursday evening, from 8pm to 10pm, at Vendome’s tasting bar. Admission is $15 (credit cards ok), which covers a full lineup of pours, plus cheese and crackers, plus whatever wine is left in the bottles once we’re done. Vendome is located at 11555 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City.  Please click on this link to RSVP and let me know if you’re planning to attend.

Hope to see you there!