Posts Tagged Grasevina

My Top 10 Odd Summer Whites

9 June 2012

Here in Chicago, we’re blessed with an array of well-stocked wine shops and adventurous wine bars and restaurants. It’s surprisingly easy to find exciting white wines far outside the American comfort zone of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. But that’s not necessarily the case for people living elsewhere.

In this 2011 article in The Wall Street Journal, New York wine critic Lettie Teague condescendingly writes that she’s “willing to declare [Chicago] the second-most important wine city in the country right now.” Her jaw dropped “incredulously” when a Chicagoan had the temerity to assert that our city is actually the most important wine city, with a better scene than New York’s. But her article goes on to prove just that, citing our diverse wine bars, low prices relative to New York’s, and huge stores like Binny’s (where, admittedly, she correctly notes that the service is crap).

Because my readers from New York and other such cities may have trouble finding some of the individual wines I write about from week to week, I thought it might be useful to list a number of favorites all in one place. Hopefully a wine shop near you will have at least one or two of my Top 10 Odd Summer Whites:

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Neither Welsh Nor Riesling: Part 1

18 April 2011

Please also see the updated review of this wine here. The bottle described in this post was corked.

Welschriesling is a confusing varietal, in that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the sweeter, more famous Riesling. And, perhaps less surprisingly, it did not originate in the sunny vineyards of Wales.

All my sources agree that this high-yielding white varietal dates back to ancient times, but there the agreement stops. Some simply call the origin a “mystery,” but others conjecture a Roman or Eastern European ancestry. Now mostly grown in Central Europe, this varietal — especially in the hands of a thoughtful winemaker — can produce some very intriguing wine.

Continuing my Balkan explorations, I sampled a 2009 Belje Welschriesling from Podunavlje, in the far northeast of Croatia. In his weighty tome Wine, André Dominé encouragingly asserts that “The best Graševina grapes come from the area around Kutjevo in the northeast.” (Note: Graševina is the Croatian name for Welschriesling.)

Belje, a  winery dating back to 1697, has earned numerous awards for its Welschriesling, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awarded the 2009 vintage an impressive 90 points, noting “hints of pineapple, water cress and apricot on the nose” and “vibrant fruit of dried apricot.”

I must admit I was a bit surprised when I took a whiff of the greenish-gold wine and smelled…not pineapple. (more…)