09/03/08 – obscure whites redux

By Jesse on September 1, 2008


Last September, we attempted a comprehensive tasting of obscure whites in order to broaden our horizons beyond the Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio that we all know so well. I can’t be completely certain, since this occasion preceded the practice of taking detailed tasting notes at each meeting, but I seem to recall that we found ourselves underwhelmed by the quality of the wines we encountered. However, a full year has passed, and it’s now time to take a second stab at obscure white greatness.

Within the past few months, two of the varietals that we deemed “obscure” enough for last September’s meeting — Sémillon and Chenin Blanc — have enjoyed their own starring roles in weekly Wino tastings. Several of the others, though, haven’t yet gotten a chance to perform solo in the Wino spotlight. These include Albariño, the legendary star of Spain’s Rías Baíxas region, and Pinot Blanc, a major grape of Alsace, which also makes appearances in Germany and California.

Look to Iberia for some good possibilities in obscure whites. When we did our Spain and Portugal tasting at Vendome, we encountered Vinho Verde, which is made from Albariño (called Alvarinho in Portugal) and a few other local varietals. We also tried a popular brand of Verdejo, a Spanish grape with Sauvignon Blanc characteristics that has found success in Rueda. And lets not forget Macabeo, sometimes called Viura, one of the main white varietals in Spain’s celebrated Rioja region.

If you want to go really geeky, find yourself an Arneis from Piedmont — racy and aromatic, Arneis is one of Italy’s most interesting whites. Or what about a Gruner Veltliner from Austria, or a Scheurebe from Germany? Or maybe an example of one of the southern Rhone whites, like Marsanne, Roussanne, or Grenache Blanc? Better yet, find yourself a white varietal that’s not listed here and blow us all away with your penchant for obscurity.

We’ll be meeting on Wednesday evening at “wino central” in Sherman Oaks. The RSVP situation is as follows: new members have eight spots reserved for them at each and every meeting, with preference within those spots given to newbies who were denied admittance due to space constraints in recent weeks. Please do not RSVP in the positive if you’re not sure you can make it, as this will deny someone else the opportunity of attending the meeting. If you do RSVP and then need to cancel, please inform me as soon as possible.

Once you get your confirmation e-mail, go seek out the most obscure white wine possible and chill it for a while. Or, simply pocket a Hamilton and head for the Valley. We’ll see you crazy Winos on Wednesday at 9pm.