Date: Fri 23-Apr-1999

Date: Fri 23-Apr-1999

Publication: Bee

Author: CAROLL

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WINE WISDOM: Relatives Of The So-Called Big Three

Perhaps we should call them The Big Three: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and

Sauvignon Blanc are by far the most popular white wines that I sell. Believe

it or not, there are a large number of other white grapes being grown that

also make delicious wines. Some you probably cannot pronounce, some you have

never heard of and some qualify on both accounts. I will now try to fill you

in on what you are missing.

Gewurztraminer is a white grape that is grown in the Alsace region of France,

Germany, Australia, Washington state, Oregon and California. Although its

flavor can be described as fruity in its most basic versions, better quality

versions of the wine can yield amazingly complex flavors. Common descriptions

of the finer bottlings generally include lychee nuts and smoke.

Beringer and Chateau Ste Michelle make tasty Gewurztraminers that sell for

under $10 a bottle. The Zind-Humbrecht winery from Alsace makes

Gewurztraminers that rank with the great wines of the world. They bottle wines

from single vineyards that each have very distinctive tastes. Although the

wines sell for over $20 a bottle, I do not hesitate to recommend them as a

true representation of Gewurztraminer.

Voignier was historically grown in the Rhone region of France and used in a

wine called Condrieu, which was made in small quantities and was quite

expensive. Lately, Voignier has been planted in California and southern France

and bottled in wines that sell for $10 to $15 a bottle. Voignier wines tend to

be medium-bodied, dry, with aromatic bouquets and light peach and apricot

flavors. Some of the best moderately priced Voigniers come from Georges

DuBoeuf, Vichon, and the EXP line from R.H. Phillips. As the warm weather

approaches, Viognier is a delightful wine to enjoy with picnic fare.

Rieslings may remind people of some sweet German wines they enjoyed in their

initial discovery of wines. Today many Rieslings are made in a much drier

style. The grape is naturally fruity, but it is vinified in a way that the

crisp acidity is also present. Dry Rieslings can be an excellent accompaniment

to spicy Southwestern and Pacific Rim cuisines. On the local front, McLaughlin

Vineyards makes a tasty dry Riesling that is definitely worth a try.

If you are stuck in a white wine rut, there is really no excuse for it.

Excellent white wines are being made all over the world. Whether it is Sandy

Hook, Conn., or some unpronounceable German vineyard, take a chance. I am

willing to wager that although you may not be able to pronounce it, you will

enjoy it!

(Steve Small is the proprietor of Steve's Liquor Store, in Ricky's Shopping

Center at 71 South Main Street in Newtown.)