Aromatic White Wines
Floral and fruity aromatic white wines are a very important category, particularly the full textured varieties like Viognier, Gewürztraminer, and Albariño/Alvarinho (Spanish/Portuguese spellings), because they are excellent as food wines, especially when fermented dry.
While many sommeliers present off-dry, aromatic whites made from Riesling or “Gewürz” as a good match to spicy cuisine, these drier, weightier whites are more versatile, pairing well with poultry, pork, veal, rich cheeses, and delicacies like foie gras, lobster, halibut and other rich fish dishes. They perform similarly to full textured, oaked Chardonnays, but have more fruit and floral complexity, inviting the use of different spices/seasonings and fruit based sauces or sides.
Campo Eliseo Cuvée Alegre, 2018, Rueda Spain ($27.00 at ANBL; $23.00 at SAQ)
While Verdejo is not often spoken of in the same fashion as Spain’s most famous white, Albariño, it can reach similar heights when treated with respect. 1/3 is fermented in concrete eggs with lots of lees contact; 1/3 is in large new French oak Demi-Muids, and 1/3 in stainless steel. This lovely Rueda has lots of apricot and peach notes, with some oak character and full, round texture. It is dry and rich, perfect for white meats and full flavoured white fish with rich sauces.
Abellio Albariño, 2019, Rías Baixas Spain ($16.35 at SAQ; $19.95 Alberta)
A fresh, good value expression of Albariño, with clean apricot fruit and white flower notes, good weight and crisp acidity. Very pure expression of the grape, suitable as a patio thirst quencher or for fruit accented salads and basic white fish preparations.
Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc, 2018, Rhone Valley France ($30 at ANBL; $20.60 at SAQ)
One of the more satisfying whites for the price I’ve had this year. This blend of 60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8 % Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, and 2% Grenache Blanc is full textured, aromatic with stone fruit, and has a clean, dry finish. Fermented in stainless steel, but the impressive weight makes one think it has seen oak. It has similarities to good Condrieu, but is far more affordable. Try with roast pork or pan roasted halibut.
Attis Albariño Lías Finas, 2018, Rías Baixas Spain ($31 Alberta)
This is a great example of what happens when you provide some oak complexity from ageing in large oak foudres on the fine lees (Lias Finas) for 6 months. Made from high quality, hand-picked and selected old vines Albariño. The combined result is a rich, golden nectar, with apricot fruit, white floral notes and oak complexity, very full body, and a long, satisfying finish. Built for some ageing, but hard to resist now.
Paco & Lola Prime Albariño Lías, 2018, Rías Baixas, Spain ($23.25 SAQ)
Made from free run juice from old vines grapes and aged on fine lees for 6 months in stainless steel, then a further 6 months off the lees. This is textbook Albariño, with those classic white flower and apricot/peach aromatics, medium-full body, and balanced finish, with firm acidity and good overall structure. Ideally served with grilled fish with a citrus or stone fruit component like a glaze, sauce or chutney.