Try an off-the-beaten-path white wine - Verdicchio

February 17, 2014

Hope you all had a wonderful time on Valentine's Day. I’m writing this Sunday, Feb. 9, so I’m only anticipating mine. As I have mentioned in the past, this is also my lovely wife Barbara’s birthday. You can bet this is one holiday I never forget to plan.

Those who prefer a delicious white wine outside of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, SB, Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Viognier mainstream, to name the most popular, may wish to try Verdicchio.

They are normally crisp, dry, white wines with a touch of minerality. Laila Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2012, at $9, is a bargain. Shoppers can buy a case of 12 for $100. Gold-tinged, yellow colored, it has a lovely bouquet featuring yellow apple, lemon blossom,  herbs, and hints of almond and tropical fruit. Aromas give way to juicy pear, apple and papaya flavors. The flavors are echoed through a long, clean finish.

Perfect with oysters, shrimp, scallops and seafood platters. FYI, I can name 44 varietal white wines. Some of them are crosses like Emerald Riesling, a cross of Riesling and Muscadelle which originated in California, and Kerner, a German cross of Trollinger and Riesling. I am fairly sure there are several whose names I’ve long forgotten.

Just sampled a bottle of 2011 Alto Moncayo Garnacha Campo da Borja, 95 points, $40.  Parker has given this label two 100-point scores, in 2007 and 2009.  

The lowest ratings since 2002 have been 2008 and ’10, both 92 points. Not easily findable. You can locate the 2006 for less than $100 and the 2011 under $40. Then add Alto Moncayo Veraton Garnacha 2009, 90 points, $29, and you will have a great tasting for 10 people. If you really want to have fun, add in a Grenache from Cote du Rhone; a 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Clos de Gilroy Central Coast Grenache, $18; and a $10 bottle of R Wines Bitch 2007 from Barossa Valley as a conversation starter or destroyer. Toss in a couple of pizzas, Nic-o-Bolis or some bleu cheese burgers and you’ll understand the joy of Grenache with food.. Great way to break up the winter blahs. If you do the second option, you will have consumed 15 ounces. Be prudent and take a cab, walk or have a DD. Here’s a nice piece from Snooth on how to be a wine expert. Although I don’t think anyone can be an expert for someone else regarding wine, I’m passing it along. To find it, simply Google “snooth 5 tips for becoming a wine expert.” I’d rather think of myself as a friendly guide prodding folks to try many avenues of enjoying wine.

People are their own experts. To quote Sloan, Track 1, on “Pretty Together”: “If it feels good, do it.”

Many are pushing the 2010 Bordeaux, the recent release. I recommend you keep your powder dry unless you absolutely must have a certain label.  To illustrate, most compare 2010 to 2008. A bellwether 2008, Chateau Mouton, opened at $200 in premarket and surged to $1,150 on release. It began its decline when the highly touted 2009 came on stream and had backslid to $776 on 2010 release. It currently resides at $645. Based on an awful 2013 season, I think this may be the nadir, but I still recommend waiting. The balance of the market for Bordeaux will follow big names and will be reflected in most prices. Those who review pricing will easily discover the efficacy of this type of shopping.

Two major anomalies are: RP or other names give 100 points or there is a high-quality, low-yield vintage.

Finally, I bought a bottle of Sleight of Hand The Conjuror 2011 because, I kid you not, it has a picture of Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) on its label. I’m still awaiting it. I had enjoyed Sleight’s Funkadelic and Levitation - both were $65, 2010 Syrah. Both were very nice, but the value was not really there. Rated both Syrah 92 points.

Poor old George and Abe are turning over in their graves at the sad political impasse we are enduring. I still can’t believe we lumped their birthdays together. “Sigh.”