Eat Drink and Be Merry: Exploring Some Wonderful Whites

Care to sample (generously) several kinds of wine, get a bite to eat and be surrounded by happy people while learning? Head out to The Chop House for one of its tastings.

Eric Bates from Lipman Brothers recently presented another of these libational adventures featuring the white wines that manager Charlie Eblen offers (except Little Black Dress) on the menu. As soon as I found out Bates was presenting, I knew his mellow nature would make it an enjoyable evening.

The night began with the Chateau Ste Michelle 2007 Riesling from Columbia Valley in Washington. A few tastings ago, I decided I love Rieslings from Washington?this continues to be true with this wine, which has a fruity aroma paired with a slightly sweet citrus peach flavor and a lingering finish.

Beaulieu Vinyards’ 2007 Coastal Estates Savignon Blanc from California followed. My all-time favorite white comes from New Zealand, but I knew the winemakers’ influence in this one. Kiwi fruit and gooseberry flavors were bright and crisp?I think from the stainless steel barrel aging. Sometimes the aroma of gooseberry is not too pleasant, but the usual “cat pee” odor was void and what was left was a light, refreshing wine. This one was my favorite of the evening.

Next we sampled a 2006 Little Black Dress Pinot Grigio, also from California. For a light pinot grigio, this wine had a high alcohol content at 13.4 percent, and I could taste it. Again, aged in stainless steel casks, the tangerine aroma and taste were very much “in your face” and prevailed with an extremely clean finish.

One interesting fact about RH Phillips’ Night Harvest 2007 Savignon Blanc is that the grapes are picked only at night and it is frost fermented in steel casks. Night harvesting retains the fresh flavors of apple and lemongrass and while its flavor is so fast, the finish is medium.

Aging Kenwood Vinyards’ Yulupa 2006 Chardonnay in French Oak barrels makes its flavor heavy with vanilla. Part of the juice is also fermented in steel, an attempt to create balance, but I think it missed the mark. Its mouth was very rich and personally, not my favorite. I got a very dry finish.

The Russian River Valley Estates in Sonoma California always puts out an effort-filled wine. This 2006 Chardonnay was no exception. Aged in 100 percent French Oak barrels, it possesses the usual oaky richness, even a hint of caramel. The mouth is well balanced with fruit and honey notes and lingers at the end.

The seventh white was a surprise to the guests as well as my palate! Beringer Napa is a well-known California winery but not for it’s Chardonnay. It’s not available at most retail establishments, which explains why I’ve never seen it. It was a decent white and I tasted the minerals in the soil, but I understand why it’s not the best seller.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter despite the recent tornadoes. It reminds us how important our loved ones are and that material things will come and go, but family is priceless. Through this difficult time in the ’Boro let us come together with friends and family to eat, drink and be merry.


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