Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! Are you on the hunt for some new white wines to taste in the hot summer heat? I have a couple of deliciously crisp wines to share with you this week to help compliment some of the foods you may be cooking on the barbeque, including a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and a blended white wine from the famous French region, Cotes du Rhone.

What makes these two wines interesting is that they are both quite different from one another. First is the Sauv Blanc, which comes from the Aconcagua area of Chile. This region is known for its balance of hot valleys, mountainous zones and proximity to the ocean. Even entry-level wines from Chile can be delicious as they usually offer an excellent balance of ripened fruits with moderate to high acidity. The Errazuriz Sauv Blanc displays this balance with its medium-plus acidity and also highlights the coolness of the area with its cool, green-like flavors (green pepper, grass, gooseberry).

The flavors of this wine are not complex but the zip of acidity and cooler fruit flavors make it an enjoyable sipper to pair with pork, salads or seafood. While this white doesn’t have the intensity or tropical fruit ripeness of a Sauv Blanc from New Zealand, the price point is very affordable and makes it an easy choice for meals with company or visiting on the deck on a hot day. My personal favorite pairing with Errazuriz is either scallops or asparagus spears wrapped with bacon and grilled on the barbeque.

The French wine (Brunel de la Gardine) may be a familiar brand to those who regularly peruse the French wine section, as two of the bottles sold by the same producer are highly recognizable with their weird bent shape; this would be the Chateau de la Gardine red blend from the Cotes du Rhone AOC and its fancier (and dustier) counterpart La Fiole du Pape from the more specific Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. By using the Cotes du Rhone AOC designation on the bottle, white wines must be made using designated varietals from the region such as Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Viognier, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc and Picpoul. This specific blend contains Grenache Blanc, Rousanne and Viognier amond others.  

The heat of the Rhone valley can produce some big, heavy wines but the best wines are made when producers understand the delicacy and freshness that can be achieved by properly growing the vines and fermenting the resulting fruit with care and attention. Grapes like Viognier and Rousanne can become heavy and syrupy at times but the Brunel de la Gardine is restrained in its display of fruit. Since the wine contains 14.5% alcohol and its quite full-bodied with an oily roundness, it can be deduced that the grapes contained a lot of sugar prior to fermentation (sugar is consumed by yeast and turned into alcohol which means the more sugar, the higher the alcohol). The producer could have left some sugar in the wine and stopped fermentation around 13 or 14% but the skill of the winemakers is indicated by the resulting wine (crisp, dry and restrained with a full body).

Side by side, I believe many people would choose the Sauv Blanc over the Cotes du Rhone due to its higher intensity and more immediate flavor output. Those that appreciate subtlety and intricacy in their wine will find more enjoyment from the French wine but food pairings will have to be carefully thought out as to not overwhelm the medium intensity of the flavor. The other factor to consider is the price comparison between the two products. The Errazuriz is a great deal for $16 but the French wine is still worth its $25 price tag (it really should be closer to $20). For its accessibility and price, the Errazuriz wins despite the fact that I technically rated it lower. It goes to show you that sometimes simple can be good!  

The Errazuriz is readily available around Prince Albert but you may have to hunt for the French wine a bit. Lake Country WSB should be getting another shipment sometime soon so put it on your list! Here are my wine picks of the week!       

Brunel de la Gardine Blanc 2019: (AOC Cotes du Rhone, France). Dry white, medium lemon color. The medium-intense nose is fresh and crisp with plenty of citrus notes (lemon peel, lemon curd), fresh pastry, yellow pear, honeydew melon and nutty tones. On the palate, the wine is gentle with medium-minus acidity and full-bodied with an oily, buttery texture. While the wine is round and full, it still tastes crisp with quick notes of pear, citrus and melon. After the brief mid palate, comes a long finish of delicate bitterness and spice. There is a slightly vegetal tone underneath the initial fruit flavors with lingering melon rinds and white pepper. Interestingly, this blended French white does have some tannins which indicates some barrel age or pressing techniques which squeeze tannins from the skins into the wine. Overall, this wine is subtle and crisp with subdued fruity notes and some medium tannins. The bitterness is never overwhelming and the oily texture from the body is pleasant and satisfying. Very old world and typically French. Pair with fresh fish like walleye or rainbow trout, cervelat salami or almond-stuffed olives. Very good! $25, 14.5% ABV

Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc 2021: (DO Aconcagua, Chile). Dry white, pale lemon color. Herbaceous aromas of gooseberries, grassy citrus, green pepper, fresh garden greens and mild, earthy minerals waft from the glass with medium-plus intensity. This light-bodied Chilean wine has a bright burst of flavor with a grassy, herbaceous mid-palate and tangy medium-plus acidity. Each sip brings out fresh, green notes like green pepper (capsicum), fresh grass and gooseberry which quickly moves into a slight mineral bitterness on the quick finish. The bitter flavors bring balance to the wine which mingles well with the citrus/grass notes and light buzz of acidity. This white is an excellent choice for food pairings/appetizers like spinach dip, grilled vegetables, scallops or fish tacos. The wine is simple but delicious and affordable (the perfect BBQ wine). Good! $16, 13% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!