16 October 2012

16oct- from the san francisco chronicle

The 'Great Other' of white wines
Jon Bonné
Published 2:18 p.m., Friday, October 5, 2012
Because domestic wine remains dominated by a few Goliath varieties, we sometimes struggle with what you might call the more
esoteric roster of homegrown whites. But I'd argue that the Great White Other is more important - and impressive - than ever.
Could one of these grapes become a runaway hit? Long shot. But they are far more than just a counterpoint to the same old
Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. And some, like Chenin Blanc, are having a welcome resurgence that's more than a blip. (Go to:
In an era when wine is more diverse than ever, these bottles provide a frontier - helping grape growers to rediscover the
unappreciated plantings of the past and to retrace the promising leads that yield-minded 20th century vineyard poobahs shrugged at.
In other words, they hold the possibility less for the next big thing than for the rise of diversity in the fields. They're a wonderful sign of
a maturing wine culture.
2011 Jolie Laide Fanucchi Vineyards Russian River Valley Trousseau Gris ($22, 13.5% alcohol): While Scott Schultz
recently returned to his day job at Wind Gap Wines, this latest from his own young label shows great depth. This barely qualifies as
white: Juice sat on the ruddy skins of this rare grape, creating a slight copper tint. Almost biting in its freshness, with wintergreen, tart
nectarine and quince flavors, plus unusual spiciness at the end. This is still young, so a bottle bought now will reward you even better
toward Thanksgiving.
2011 Adelsheim Ribbon Springs Vineyard Ribbon Ridge Auxerrois ($22, 13%): One of Oregon's defining wineries has a place
in its heart for this grape, which has the same parentage (Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc) as Chardonnay but little of the same respect or
love. David Adelsheim has produced a pedigreed effort, with an intensity of ripe fruit - pear and mandarin - hitched to mineral
freshness and a white-pepper bite.
2011 Birichino Monterey Malvasia Bianca ($17, 13%): Bonny Doon alumni Alex Krause and John Locke remain on a roll with
their Central Coast label. This gem is sourced from the massive 5,000-acre San Bernabe vineyard, another sign of how a grape long
planted in California can find a new, vibrant life. Lean and almost chewy, it's full of exuberant orange-blossom, apricot and clove.
2010 Clarksburg Wine Co. VS Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($24, 11.5%): This area in the Sacramento delta remains a littleknown wine-growing treasure, and somehow the fates have kept undervalued Chenin Blanc in the Clarksburg ground. Usually its fruit
goes elsewhere, but this local facility brought in consultant Stacy Clark, who tapped the area for her popular Pine Ridge white. VS
stands for Vouvray style, though that could imply sweetness while this is dry, serious stuff. Wonderfully tangy, with corn silk, finger
lime, nectarine and a woodsy edge. An off-dry version ($16, 12.5%) is just as finessed.
2011 Roark Wine Co. Santa Ynez Valley Chenin Blanc ($15, 12.3%): Ryan Roark's 2010 bottling of this grape, using old vines
grown near the Curtis winery, made a strong impression earlier this year. His new release is equally good, with slightly softer edges -
blossom honey and ripe Bosc pear, and a wheatgrass twang. This bottle might have a bit of Vouvray on the brain, with a wonderful
density to the flavors.
2011 Zocker Paragon Vineyard Edna Valley Gruner Veltliner ($20, 13.5%): The mix of marine and volcanic influence in the
soils of the 872-acre Paragon site have quietly made proof positive of Gruner's abilities on these shores. This latest has that celery-like
astringency that makes the variety so versatile, with citrus aromas and perhaps a bit edgier flavors than the 2010.
2011 Kenneth Volk Silvaspoons Vineyard Alta Mesa Torrontes ($24, 13.1%): Wild Horse founder Volk seems to have been
hunting for new white wine sources, and his take might be the best yet for this small Lodi planting of Argentina's beloved grape. As
exuberantly floral as Torrontes can be, with a firmer structure to citrus and grape flavors. A classy rendition, with the same snap that's
present in great dry Muscat.
2011 Y. Rousseau Old Vines Russian River Valley Colombard ($18, 12.8%): Yannick Rousseau's effort to elevate a littleappreciated California workhorse is impressive in its new vintage. A fine mineral overtone to papaya skin, citrus zest and honeydew,
with a wonderfully full texture - thank seven hours of soaking on its skins - reminiscent of ripe apple. Better than 2010, and proving itspoint wonderfully.
2011 Harney Lane Lodi Albarino ($19, 13%): While the Mettler family has been farming in Lodi since 1907, their embrace of the
area's new focus on Spanish varieties has paid off. The peach and lime-rickey flavors are sweet and enduring, with a thyme accent and
freshness that could easily rival versions from the grape's native Rias Baixas.

Jon Bonné is The Chronicle's wine editor. Find more of his coverage at sfgate.com/wine. E-mail: jbonne@sfchronicle.com Twitter:

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