Great Whites from North & South America
When it hits 100 degrees, there’s nothing better than a quick swim in the ocean. But if you’ve seen Shark Week or the movie JAWS one too many times you may prefer to keep your feet on the shore. If so, you’re more likely to choose your seafood plated, or in a summer salad.
Joe makes some fabulous salads, like his most recent spinach and grilled chicken. And I had a simply decadent Ahi Tuna Salad for lunch yesterday at Smith & Wollensky, where they have a fabulous wine list. If fact, Wine Spectator again honored the Houston location an Award of Excellence in their Annual “Wine Friendly Restaurants Around the World” (August 31, 2009 issue).
In addition to the great pairing with the Chalone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc the Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad pairs well with a 2007 Alexana Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, that we reviewed back in April. Says WS about this 90 point wine:
This feels refreshing but has a little extra depth going for it, with peach, melon and vague hints of mint and cream lurking behind the fruit. Remains expressive on the deftly balanced finish. Drink now through 2010. 142 cases made. –HS
Priced at $32.00 it’s worth every penny.
California – St. Supery Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
To pair with my Ahi Tuna Salad at Smith & Wollensky, I chose a 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from St. Supery, host of last week’s Twitter Taste Live! (TTL) and new employer of twitter extraordinaire Rick Bakas, recently hired to be their new Director of Social Media.
St. Supery’s Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and delightful, pairing well with the pepper-crusted ahi tuna sitting atop a bed of arugula, radicchio, friseé, red onion and Greek olives, mixed with flavors of fennel, oranges and capers. Featuring aromas of ruby grapefruit, nectarine and a shaded minerality, the palate is bright with lime juice, honeydew melon and a touch of pineapple.
For TTL, Joe paired the 2008 SB with his homemade wheat sourdough bread crusted with olives, garlic and rosemary and Poggio al Vento extra virgin olive oil mixed with Mediterranean herbs for dipping.
Refreshingly acidic and listed at 13.3% Alcohol By Volume, this wine is priced at a reasonable $23. Smith & Wollensky Houston charges $10 per glass.
California – 2006 St. Supery Virtu Napa Valley White Wine Meritage
I was also pleased to see St. Supery’s Virtu on the menu, although it was available only by the bottle. Another TTL selection, we enjoyed this white meritage during Saturday’s Twitter Taste Live. Smooth and creamy, this blend of 48% Semillion and 52% Sauvignon Blanc won the hearts and palates of the TTL crowd, and paired especially well with a lightly warmed brie topped with cherry pecan preserves from The Great San Saba River Pecan Company (San Saba, Texas), and the Parmesan sesame crisps Joe made especially for the event.
Here are just a few comments from some of the live tasters:
* dawnadowntown: #St Supery Virtu- we tasted w/ Chef’s Barber’s Smoked Trout Roulade & an aged cheddar. we are in love.
* JugShop: My vote Virtu,…Virtu like a elegant lady with loads of class and money
* langelius: We are thoroughly enjoying the Virtu. The Semillon and Sauvignon blanc are complimenting each other. Talk about a marriage!
* winebeerWA: The scent from Virtu is amazing – watermelon one moment, cedar the next, quite lovely
Says St. Supery about this wine: “The concept is to create the best blend of the vintage using only bordeaux grape varietals, so the blend changes annually along with the commissioned “saint” artwork on the label.
St. Supery Virtu is priced at $28.00 and just $22.40 for Wine Club members.
Los Vascos is the Chilean outpost of Domaines Barons de Rothschild-Lafite, famously known for its fabulous Grand Crus de Bordeaux. Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902–1988) was a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty who became a Grand Prix race-car driver, a screenwriter and playwright, a theatrical producer, a film producer, a poet, and one of the most successful wine growers in the world. At the outbreak of World War I, 12-year-old Philippe was sent to the safety of the family’s vineyard in the village of Pauillac in the Médoc. There he developed a love of the country and the wine business, a family enterprise since 1853, but one in which his father and grandfather had shown little interest. After achieving the 1973 upgrading of Chateau Mouton Rothschild to Premier Cru status, and after the historic results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, Phillipe began looking beyond France for wine-growing opportunities. Following a joint venture with Robert Mondavi in 1980 to form California’s Opus One Winery, Rothschild’s daughter Philippine, teamed up with Concha y Toro of Chile to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon based, Bordeaux-style red wine in a new winery built in Chile’s Maipo Valley, the Almaviva.
The Sauvignon Blanc made at Los Vascos comes from grapes purchased on long term contracts from both the Casablanca and Curicó areas. Joe paired this with flounder poached in extra virgin olive oil, wilted spinach with caramelized onions and panko-encrusted summer vegetables.
This Sauvignon Blanc was not typical of the overly grassy, pipi du chat forward wines evident in many from New Zealand. I got a nutty, fresh green and floral aroma on the palate, that the tasting notes describe as “clear with nice green reflections.” Joe noted lemongrass, lemon and orange peel with a whiff of ginger on the nose in this straw-colored beauty. With mild lemon, lemongrass and lemon oil, mild florals and slightly honeyed with a hint of grapefruit on the palate, certainly not your standard Sauvignon Blanc.
An amazing value wine with a suggested retail price of only $11.49 per 750 ml bottle.
Most wine connoisseurs are often hesitant to recommend Sauvignon Blanc, because of its reputation for aromas that favor Sylvester or Toonces playing in the sandbox. If all SBs could taste like St. Supery’s Sauvignon Blanc and Virtu, and Los Vascos’ Sauvignon Blanc, we’d bet they’d change their tunes.
And there you have it, great white wines from North and South America, with no need to worry about sharks!