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Palate progression TOWARD white wine
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Inspired by the comments on the Dangueneau Pur Sang thread, I wanted to start a discussion on palate progression.

Keeping in mind that the people posting on this board represent a very small percentage of wine drinkers (face it, we're all wine geeks - very passionate about the drink), most people follow the same "path" when it comes to the evolution of their palate. I'm making generalizations here, and obviously it doesn't apply in every scenario (as in my case).

Let's face it, there is a ton of crappy wine out there - stuff that's correct at best, but not inspiring. When winos get bit by the bug, it almost always starts with red wine, often new world, with big, bold flavours and thickly textured wines.

With time (and often with the assistance of generous friends with deeper cellars), the old world comes into play - Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello (is it a coincidence that all these great areas start with B?), Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cote-Rotie, etc, etc.

But what's the next step? I honestly think it's the great DRY, STILL white wines of the world. Now, my experience with these wines may not be as deep as some, nor with my background for reds, but I think white wines are often overlooked or considered "simple" or as something to slot in between Champagne and your first red of a meal.

White Rhones (Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Condrieu, White Hermitage), Chablis (especially with some age on them), Bordeaux, Loire (Sancerre, Vouvray, Savennieres), and then all the great White Burgundy - why are they commonly overlooked? To be honest, I've been fortunate enough to have a couple whites that blew away the competition (and we're talking some serious heavy-hitter reds) at great meals.

Any comments on this? And what are some top whites that you've enjoyed this year?

I'm sure I'm going to tick some people off for drawing attention to fantastic whites (I'm looking at you w+a Razz), but I think it's an interesting topic and it can incite some great discussion.

One wine that really stands out for me right now (I'll have to review some notes for others) would be the 2006 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Papes Blanc Vieilles Vignes from 100% Roussanne. Holy crap is that a fantastic wines. The layers of complexity both on the nose and the palate were unreal, and the finish went for minutes. It was my WOTN at a dinner that included things like 1994 Harlan Estate, 1990 Pichon Baron and 1990 Cheval Blanc.

Discuss!



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Posts: 10698 | Location: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 17, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not sure the initial premise holds up so well. My guess is that as one becomes more interested in wine, he or she becomes more interested in trying new things. Your starting point determines what experiences will be new.

The first wines I liked were rieslings, off dry. My parents drank those when I was a child and I always liked the combination of tart acidity and sweetness and fruit. And still have a predilection for that type of fruit -strawberries, pineapple, grapefruit, etc.

Then I drank a lot of old world wine and also had some CA wine because I had an uncle who lived in Napa. I was indifferent to all. What finally got me interested in wine however, was classic styled Rioja. From there to Chateauneuf and the south Rhone, and later to Australia and the US, which I loved because they were keeping all that great fruit in the wine. I have another friend who had collected a lot of Bordeaux and Barolo over the years and one day decided he just didn't like that stuff so he sold it off and now has a great cellar of big Napa cabs that he loves. He's Italian and grew up with the old world wine. Came to the new world styles on his own.

So I think you have a point but only IF people started out drinking bigger and more fruit-forward wines. And if they did, a big part of it may have to do with finances. Until you really decide you love wine, it's hard to imagine spending $25 on a bottle of something. And once you can do that, $100 suddenly doesn't seem so crazy. But I'd imagine that people are more likely to start with cheaper stuff and in those cases, it's probably easier to find something drinkable that's "modern" in style. For example, for some reason they still make Mouton Cadet. Why? Can anyone drink it and actually like it? Especially someone new to wine? Whereas those people may well enjoy an inexpensive Ravenswood zin or inexpensive offering from Argentina or Australia.

And then don't overlook food. I know many people who drink predominantly white wine simply because they eat mostly seafood and vegetarian dishes and seem to believe that whites go better with those.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2492 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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2006 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Papes Blanc Vieilles Vignes from 100% Roussanne. Holy crap is that a fantastic wines. The layers of complexity both on the nose and the palate were unreal, and the finish went for minutes. It was my WOTN at a dinner that included things like 1994 Harlan Estate, 1990 Pichon Baron and 1990 Cheval Blanc.


I've never had an Hommage, but I'm firmly in the camp that Beaucastels white wines are better than their reds.

The best dry still whites I've had in '09 have been the 2007 Merry Edwards SB, the 2003 Damijan blend, and a couple of White Burgundy whose names escape me at the moment. Last November DRAB was kind enough to open a 2005 Girardin Corton Charlemagn Quintessence which was the last spectacular white wine I've had.

The best dry white wine, and one of the very best wines, period, I've ever had was th 1998 F.X. Pichler Unendlich that rhone warrior was kind enough to bring to an offline in SF just over 2 years ago. I can still taste it.


"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
 
Posts: 7359 | Registered: Dec 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In my late teens/early twenties I was exposed to German Rieslings and loved them. Especially the Spatlese. Then my first father-in-law (early 80's) imported wine for a while and he taught me some good foundationary basics along with introducing me to Chilean whites and reds. Simple wines, lacking much body and complexity, but refreshing and great value. Later I was exposed to a few of the Loire Valley. However I was never exposed to 'great' wines, wines of true substance & complexity, until I lived in Europe in the mid 90's. Living in Bavaria I stumbled upon and had easy access to Brunellos and loved them. I was there that I began developing a deep appreciation for wine and its' capacity to be so gratifying. While maintaining an emphasis on Spain, I began to search for my likings and really began tasting wines from around the world. So, I would say Italy was my true initial springboard into this obsession.

The last couple of years I've delved much more back into the whites, with Champagnes becoming a real passion the past couple of years(thanks to some great education and guidance from w+a), and developing a love for Bordeaux, Burgandies and Rhones.

Not counting Champagnes (not sure why not, but it seems so unfair to the rest), thus far this year, my white WOTY has been a 1998 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc, closely followed by the 2000 Château Laville Haut-Brion Blanc .
 
Posts: 15139 | Location: Montreal, QC | Registered: Feb 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Have always admired the best whites, and during several periods have preferred them to reds in general. I've never gained much of an appreciation for German Riesling (love examples from Austria and Alsace). I've really been liking Bordeaux Blanc recently, including '04 Haut Brion and Laville Haut Brion Blanc which are both stellar young wines (HBB would be on my short list of best wines I've had this year). Have had several Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles which have all been spectacular as well; possibly the best white in Jadot's extensive portfolio (including the Monty). Marcassin continues to make the best US whites by a significant margin IMO. Haven't had a good white Rhone in a while.
 
Posts: 1489 | Location: Chicago, IL | Registered: Oct 30, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I started with old world wines and continue to drink that "style" today. While they are not my idea of enjoyable I can completely understand why many prefer new world wines. What I can't understand is those that don't drink (or only in summer drink) white wines. I drink what goes best with my meal no matter the color.

On the whole I do enjoy reds more, but some whites can be wonderful. As a matter of fact the wine that I feel was the first to give me that "so this is what winemaking at it's finest is" moment was a white. I don't recall the vintage, but it was a Quintarelli Secco Bianco. I vividly remember drinking it thinking that I have had white wines that I've enjoyed more, but there was just something so perfect, so much beyond just enjoyment in that glass.

As for my favorites, Damijan, Cervaro della Sala, Querciaballa Batar, Jermann Vintage Tunina, and the wines of Vie di Romans have to be near the top of the list.


“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”—Winston Churchill”
 
Posts: 3470 | Location: Vermont | Registered: Sep 10, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't necessarily think there is a progression toward white, as much as it seems to get left behind in consideration. Once the enthusiast has developed their palate, and learned more, suddenly there is a wake up call when they are served their first great white wine. I know this happened with me. But....I still hold the great reds of the world on a bit higher pedestal. Not that I haven't had whites that I'd put right up there....2005 DRC Monty last year, and an '05 Coche Dury Perrieres I had a couple of weeks ago are two of the most profound wines I've had...period.....


So much wine.....so little time!!!
 
Posts: 7015 | Location: San Francisco | Registered: Jun 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For me it was more a health thing. As I get a bit older, my metabolism has slowed and I need to be more concerned about developing a spare tire and about the health of my heart, so I've started eating more fish and leaner cuts of meat. As I got into wine generally through my love of good food, I needed some great wines to go with this lighter food, so I started drinking more whites. The white rhones are what's really done it for me lately though (like futuronic, I love the 2006 Beaucastel Vielles Vignes CDP - it has been my Wine of the year so far, red or white). Hermitage, CDP, Condrieu and even some great values from Saint-Joseph have been what I've been buying lately.


Show me a good loser, I'll show you a loser - Vince Lombardi.
 
Posts: 2274 | Location: Toronto | Registered: Jun 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Futronic, I'm in agreement.

I'm often surprised at how self professed serious wine geeks often summarily dismiss white wine as not as prestigious or worthy in some ways as red wine. I also must confess, I do not take this type of wine geek very seriously with such a blind spot in their palate. I consider it a major flaw!

I would also debate that white varietals offer a much broader range of unique styles, and often work better with food than most give credit for.

On a personal note, I find that balancing my drinking habits with both white, red and sparkling helps recalibrate my palate in some manner, if that makes any sense.

I have also noticed at my office, the under 30 crowd seem to start off drinking red wines from OZ and California, and often consider white wine something the girls drink. Only after several years of wine drinking do they start to explore Old World and White's in general. Always exceptions I know, but in general this is what I observe.

I could not imagine not seeking out the great white wines of Rhone, Burgundy, Loire, Alsace, Bordeaux, Austria, Spain, Germany, Italy and California, just to name a few. Wink

Almost without exception, when I'm around my friends Paul or Kevin, we talk about the 1989 Haut Brion Blanc we shared. It is still one of the finest 5 wines I have ever had the pleasure of drinking, and I have been blessed to have had more than my fair share of great wines.

I look forward to continuing conversation on this thread.
 
Posts: 29630 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I too have had examples of this.

When I started drinking wine in earnest, I tried a lot of stuff, including over oaked California Chardonnay. Quite honestly, that oily, buttery taste really turned me off and I had a negative impression of Chardonnay after that.

Much later I began to discover old world Chardonnay and I quickly developed a new perspective on the old white grape. I now appreciate the complexity and variability of a Chardonnay and I have some fun trying to pick out country, climate and age when I drink Chardonnay today.

Oh yeah, there's NOTHING like a wonderful crisp Chablis. I didn't discover Chablis until well into my red experimentation. But now it's among my top GO TO wines.
 
Posts: 1046 | Location: New York City | Registered: May 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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flaws are a plenty with just about every wine drinker i know, whether it's a complete dismissal of cali chards or aussie shiraz or or or...the list goes on and on... Cool Popcorn

quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
I consider it a major flaw!


-----------------------------

Go Yankees! Razz


 
Posts: 8463 | Location: Los Angeles | Registered: Nov 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by TBird:
flaws are a plenty with just about every wine drinker i know, whether it's a complete dismissal of cali chards or aussie shiraz or or or...the list goes on and on... Cool Popcorn

quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
I consider it a major flaw!


TBird, I'm not talking about drinking/buying said wines. I'm talking about summarily dismissing a wine ONLY because it is white, and thinking it can not be world class or a serious wine.

Think of a foodie not taking certain styles of food serious, or certain styles of music serious, just because.

There are styles of art I would never buy or go out of my way to view, but I do acknowledge their place in the art world and understand their place and purpose.

I'm really referring to what I call blind spots, and to have a blind spot towards red or white would be simply too inordinate in my opinion.
 
Posts: 29630 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am 33 and got into wine about 5 years ago. I started as a red drinker that dismissed white drinkers as "girly". I am slowly veering away from cabs/syrahs and trying and loving more Pinots. I have yet to find a white I compare to a great red. I love whites for the summer but I havent spent the money to buy a great white when there are so many reds I am still waiting to try.
 
Posts: 4171 | Location: Jupiter, Fl | Registered: Mar 11, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by TBird:
flaws are a plenty with just about every wine drinker i know, whether it's a complete dismissal of cali chards or aussie shiraz or or or...the list goes on and on...
Agree! It's one thing to "dismiss" and another thing to simply state that it does not suit you're palate.
 
Posts: 1761 | Location: Minneapolis | Registered: Jan 06, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by wine+art: Think of a foodie not taking certain styles of food serious, or certain styles of music serious, just because.

There are styles of art I would never buy or go out of my way to view, but I do acknowledge their place in the art world and understand their place and purpose.
Well said!
 
Posts: 1761 | Location: Minneapolis | Registered: Jan 06, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by jburman82:
I am 33 and got into wine about 5 years ago. I started as a red drinker that dismissed white drinkers as "girly". I am slowly veering away from cabs/syrahs and trying and loving more Pinots. I have yet to find a white I compare to a great red. I love whites for the summer but I havent spent the money to buy a great white when there are so many reds I am still waiting to try.
I can relate to this. My biggest "flaw" or "blind spot" is in part due to my lack of exposure to great whites and my love for reds. I most certainly wouldn't "dismiss" whites in general, but rather I haven't been exposed enough to them to fully appreciate them for what they are. For me, its "baby steps" with whites. And to date, these "baby steps" have been interesting and eye opening. Smile
 
Posts: 1761 | Location: Minneapolis | Registered: Jan 06, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My path in wine is similar to what Futronic describes. I've never dismissed whites, but my palate certainly leans toward reds. It is this "lean" and now a change in my buying habits (spending less per bottle and looking for "deals") that has made my exploration of whites a slow one. That being said, I have more bottles of white in my cellar than at any other time. I've always enjoyed White Burgundy, Rieslings and Gruners from Austria, and new world Chardonnays that fit my palate (though I don't believe I have any in my cellar currently). The last year or so I've been buying more German Rieslings and even picked up my first white Rhone. I'd like to explore more whites from Rhone and Loire. The main thing holding me back is knowledge, the cost of some of those wines and my bias toward reds. I still feel more "comfortable" buying reds in my upper price range than I do whites. I guess I just need that one WOW moment with a white to change that. I've had some whites that I have enjoyed quite a bit, but never has one matched my top red experiences.

I need to get down to Dallas and have Wine + Art show me what's what.


“Appreciating old wine is like making love to a very old lady. It is possible. It can even be enjoyable. But it requires a bit of imagination.”

Andre Tchelistcheff
 
Posts: 2579 | Location: Ohio | Registered: Jan 23, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by eyesintime:


I need to get down to Dallas and have Wine + Art show me what's what.


It would be my pleasure, and we will start off the night with a BdB Champagne. Wink
 
Posts: 29630 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't know about others, but I've found good whites to have very focussed flavors, whether primary or secondary. Perhaps it's the diminished tannic bite, or (in general) more vibrant acidity, but I have often found it easier to identify and describe flavors easier in whites than reds.

quote:

I need to get down to Dallas and have Wine + Art show me what's what.


Ditto. Last fall, he came up to my area to show what's what, in the form of a 2005 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc. One of the best whites I've ever tasted. Liked it so much, I picked up several more recently. A beautiful wine. Smile


-IB

"Wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit."---Lindsay Bluth
 
Posts: 8849 | Location: The Circle City | Registered: Nov 24, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Indy, I still think of the 1986 Krug Clos de Mesnil we all shared. Cool

Too bad KSC02 canceled on us. Red Face
 
Posts: 29630 | Location: Dallas, TX & Santa Fe, NM | Registered: Feb 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by wine+art:
Indy, I still think of the 1986 Krug Clos de Mesnil we all shared. Cool

Too bad KSC02 canceled on us. Red Face


True! It was wonderful, and I expected it to be (especially considering the pedigree)! But for me the SHL Blanc was a revelation of sorts.


-IB

"Wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit."---Lindsay Bluth
 
Posts: 8849 | Location: The Circle City | Registered: Nov 24, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What has been the observation from folks regarding fine white wines and shutting down?


-IB

"Wine only turns into alcohol if you let it sit."---Lindsay Bluth
 
Posts: 8849 | Location: The Circle City | Registered: Nov 24, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by indybob:
What has been the observation from folks regarding fine white wines and shutting down?


Roussanne has this problem. Beaucastel VV, especially, can shut down for a few years once released. I've had similar results with a few different white Hermitage, though I think the Beaucastel VV wins the 'most likely to shut down' or 'shuts down the hardest' award.

While other white grapes go through evolutions and some will find them more pleasurable to drink at various different times in development (see: Rielsing) I don't find whites outside the Rhone really to shut down in the same way that a few of the best from that region do.

That said, some of the best whites of the world can be very tight on release and are best with several years on them. eg. Burgundy, Bordeaux, Marcassin.


"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
 
Posts: 7359 | Registered: Dec 05, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I forgot something that was alluded to in some of the other posts. In the late 1970s and 1980s, when "fern bars" started appearing all over the place, white wine was in fact the drink of many women and girls. It was a trend that kind of coincided with the rise of Quiche Lorraine, which itself got transmogrified into simply "quiche" to which unmentionable things like broccoli were added. That time period also coincided with the rise of the fitness boom and the demise of the "businessman's lunch", especially after Carter removed the deductions for the famous three martini lunch. I don't remember what guys were drinking in those days - it wasn't white wine though.


"The best part is how he said the ENGLISH language. Fine irony. Use American next time."
 
Posts: 2492 | Location: NY | Registered: Dec 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Great wine is great wine, whether it is red or white. The best example of this for me was an Haut Brion vertical that I was fortunate enough to be a part of last year. We tasted 10 vintages of Haut Brion (including '78, '82, '89, and '00) and the wines of the night were the '82 and a 1994 Haut Brion Blanc. It was my first time tasting this wine. What a lasting impression. It has made me search out the great whites of the world. Since that time I have tasted the genius of Didier Dagueneau (both Silex and Pur Sang), the idiosyncratic wines of Radikon, Gravner, and Bea, the steely Chablis of Raveneau, etc. I found that all these wines brought the same enjoyment and "ah ha" moments that I have experienced with the great reds I have had the pleasure of drinking.

I look forward to expanding my knowledge of champagne as well. I feel that Burgundy and Champagne are two regions that I don't know enough about. It is also the two regions that my wife has given me the green light to "explore" more.
 
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