04/02/08 – Green wines for spring sippin’

By Jesse on March 30, 2008


Usually I pride myself on coming up with truly original topics for the weekly tastings… for example, “any Chardonnay but California Chardonnay” was moderately clever, no?  And clearly “wines that start with V” was a stroke of genius.  This week, however, we turn to an outside source for our topic, and it’s an interesting one, at once categorically diverse and seasonally topical.  I know that’s how y’all like them to be.

Wine critic and LA Times contributor Patrick Comiskey (no relation to the erstwhile baseball park) has written a recent piece called “White Wines for Your Spring Table,” which was forwarded to me by our token researcher, Erik Nye.  Please read the full article here — it’s basically an exegesis of the “green” wines you can expect to find on the market today.  “Green,” in this case, refers less to the environmental movement than to the herbaceous character that we can expect to find in the largely steel-fermented wines championed in this piece.  Among them:

Arneis.  This is a racy white grape from Piedmont (of Barolo/Barbaresco fame) in northwestern Italy.  Read more at the Appellations America page, where it says that Arneis produces fragrant whites with pear and white peach notes.  See if you can find one from Italy or from California.

Albariño.  Tasted most recently at the Vendome tasting in Portuguese form (where it is called Alvarinho and is made into “Vinho Verde”), this herbaceous white from Rias Baixas in northwestern Spain has found some good success in California as well.  Feel free to bring either.

Gruner Veltliner.  We tasted these back in February and really enjoyed them.  Lets delve further into what distinctions can be made between this Austrian wine and its German cousins to the north.  There’s an unfortunate tendency to lump Austrian wines with Germans in stores (and, consequently, in our thinking), and we Winos have to address that.

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  Always a favorite.  The article explains how New Zealand’s climate influences its flavors and mouthfeel, as well as how other regions in the world are using various methods to attempt to replicate that racy, herb-infused New Zealand style in their Sauv Blancs.*

*On a related climatic note, one such place is Australia, where they’ve recently been experiencing insane droughts.  Doug sent us this article about the extremely serious problems currently faced by the Australian wine industry.  Sobering stuff.

Finally, one note about bottles — as we witnessed two weeks ago, not enough bottles means we need to send someone out to buy more.  However, that was the first time in history that dilemma had befallen us; much more common is what we witnessed last week, that when everyone brings a bottle, it’s a little bit overwhelming.  Please do not fear the ten-spot!  There is no shame in bringing $10 instead of a bottle, and in fact, it’s extremely appreciated by all, for two reasons: 1) it contributes to the wine club funds which allow us to buy premier bottles for tastings, help pay for field trips, etc., and 2) because if we have seventeen or fourteen or even twelve bottles, it becomes a little much… we wind up staying later than our host might like, as well as totally failing to have rational discussions on the final five or six wines.  So please don’t feel obligated to bring a bottle every week — a good rule of thumb, especially for new members, might be to make sure you bring a $10 instead of a bottle at least once out of every two or three meetings.

We’ll be meeting at Newsha’s place in Venice.  RSVP now and you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation with the exact address.  Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a bottle of something cold, green and racy — or embrace the ten-spot, which we love — and we’ll see your bad selves Wednesday at 9pm.