Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wine Blogging Wednesday

First I'd like to thank Jathan at wineexpression.com, our host for this months WBW, for forcing me well out of my wine comfort zone of United States wine and into France's Rhone wine region. Being a wine simpleton at this stage (but wanting to learn), I knew nothing about French wine and have, in fact, found it somewhat baffling with labels in a code that I had not the knowledge to crack(I guess learning some French would help). But this exercise gave me the impetus to learn more, and learning more about wine was one of the reasons that I started this blog.

After researching what I was to look for and what was available in my area, I chose an E.Guigal 2001 Cotes du Rhone Blanc for $12.99. The price was right and it was from the right place. I had no preconceived notions of this wine and had no idea whether it was dry or off-dry. The wine is a blend of 33% Rousanne, 25% Clairette, 25% Viognier, 15% Bourbolene, and 2% Grenache Blanc, meeting this WBW's stated requirements of a Rhone blend.

The wine was a pale straw color and exhibited very faint hints of mineral and petroleum and not much else. At first sip, I noted bitter tastes of mineral and petroleum-alcohol that overpowered the fruit, with hints of oak and pepper. Not a very good first impression. Since I have had other white wines that started out of the bottle like this, but then benefited greatly from some air time, I decided to let my glass sit for a while. I asked this question before, but I will ask all of you more experienced wine people again- Should white wine be decanted? In searching the internet, I can find very few references to decanting white wine but, in my experience, some white wines really evolve for the better after some air time.

And such was the case for this wine. After about 20 minutes, the heavy petroleum-alcohol had mellowed and revealed hints of butter, citrus, and even vanilla, actually reminding me of a Chardonnay. But still the petro-alcohol was over the top. Perhaps the 13% alcohol was too much for my taste. As time went by, the wine got a little better for me, but it would not be a wine that I would buy again.

In searching for other reviews of this wine, I could hardly believe that I was drinking the same wine as other reviewers. Most also rated it average, but they noted tastes of pear, honeysuckle, pineapple, green apple, and papaya that just were not there for me. Perhaps 5 years was too long for this wine or perhaps I just got what I paid for- a low-priced wine. So, in summary, this wine was just ok for me, but this WBW did force me to learn much more about French wine than I knew before. And to me, that is success. For the pursuit of knowledge is always a noble thing. Thanks Again Jathan!!!


g58 said...

My take on whites is that they can only get oxided the more they are exposed to air. Not necessarily a good thing, but maybe in your case it helped to develop something favourable, making the wine less astringent and less heady. That 2001 could be easily past its peak and the disappearance of fruit flavours would be the number one symptom of this. I notice my wine guide says the 2003 is the vintage to drink now.
Great reading about you going out on a limb and trying something new. Not matter what the bottle, it's great to see honest and organized notes like yours put out there. Cheers!

Finger Lakes Weekend Wino said...

Dr. Weingolb, I presume. Thanks for the info and comments. I read your wine blog all the time.