If you have never dedicated your wine budget to exploring the world’s aromatic whites, I suggest that now might be an opportune moment—when May is blossoming with fragrance, and some terrific bottles are selling for a song. The June issue of Toronto Life features reviews of 10 great aromatic whites from some of the world’s more obscure wine regions. Several others were tasted in researching the article, so I’ve reviewed them here. Plus, I’ve added a few classic selections from Germany and Niagara also released at Vintages on May 10.
Obscure Aromatic Whites
Arnaldo-Caprai 2006 Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani, Umbria, Italy ($23.95, 89 points) Local grechetto—the mainstay of light and lively orvieto—can make very rich, elegant chardonnay-like wines. This version is soft, rich and exotically perfumed with star fruit, clover and nectarine. This is a medium-full-bodied white that is smooth and creamy, yet lively with a bitter, waxy, peppery and mineral finish. Very good length. Buy direct from the Stem Wine Group Web site.
Ronco del Gelso 2006 Tocai Friulano, Friuli, Italy ($25.95, 91 points) The tocai friulano grape of northeast Italy is virtually unknown in Canada, but this wine is a star with its bright yellow colour and soft, seductive, unusual nose of pear, banana and fennel. Mid-weight, with a creamy texture, lovely fruit sweetness and bitter tang on the finish. Works with rich fish and mild pork recipes. The 2007 vintages will soon be arriving at Stem Wine Group.
Telmo Rodriguez 2006 Basa, Rueda, Spain ($16.50, 87 points) Good value from a small white wine region specializing in the local sauvignon blanc–like verdejo grape. Shows pale, silver-yellow colour with fairly generous dill, guava-gooseberry jam and grapefruit on the nose. Generous, sweetish, fleshy and focused. Excellent length. Buy direct from Lifford Wine.
Zeyssolff 2005 Klevener de Heiligenstein, Alsace, France ($17.95, 88 points, 65656) Klevener de Heiligenstein is a gewürztraminer-like variety grown near its eponymous village. This is a wine with a huge, floral, dramatic nose with yellow plum, pineapple and spice. Full, fleshy and a touch sweet, with a rich palate. Generous, billowing, off-dry palate with a savoury, spicy finish. Excellent length. Available at Vintages.
Classic German Rieslings
Darting 2006 Riesling Kabinett Durkheimer Michelsberg, Pfalz, Germany ($15.95, 92 points, 950212) A very impressive bottle at a great price. It is definitely in the off-dry category; a fleshy, vibrant riesling loaded with fruit, from an excellent vintage. Expect opulent yellow pear and pineapple fruit, subtle brown spice notes and a juicy, racy texture. Excellent length. Available at Vintages.
Schloss Johannisberger 2006 Riesling Durkheimer Michelsberg, Rheingau, Germany ($27.95, 91 points, 70961) Wonderful combination of charm and power from the icon property of the Rheingau. Great nose of honey, mandarin, dried herbs and petrol, all carrying well through the off-dry yet lean, taut palate. Minerality joins in on the finish. Excellent length. Available at Vintages.
Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt 1998 Riesling Kabinett Kaseler Nies’chen, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany ($19.95, 90 points, 940809) A rare chance to try a mature German riesling at its peak. The nose is very lifted, with notes of honey, pineapple, white mushroom and spruce needle scent often found in older rieslings. It’s very much alive, with fresh acidity, satiny texture and a touch of sweetness. Orange notes on the finish. Available at Vintages.
Schloss Schönborn 2005 Riesling Kabinett, Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg, Rheingau, Germany ($18.95, 88 points, 928184) A bit more mature than expected, with nuances of spearmint, petrol and white mushroom tucked among the primary apricot and honey aromas. Light bodied, with a bolt of mouth-watering acidity. Very lively, nervy wine for seasoned riesling fans. Excellent length. Available at Vintages.
Kruger-Rumpf 2006 Riesling Kabinett, Munster Pittersberg, Nahe, Germany ($19.95, 87 points, 692368) This is a very ripe 2006 white from one of the smaller German riesling regions between the Rhine and Mosel. Loaded with peach fruit and candied orange, as well as a slightly earthy note, this wine is quite sweet but backed up by good acid tension. Lovely fruit on the finish, with very good to excellent length. Available at Vintages.