Blinded By The White

Artemis Karamolegos, Pyritis, Mega Cuvee Santorini, 

An Assyrtiko from Santorini, the cuvee is a a blend of three very old vineyards (120-150 years old). Like my recent discovery, the Azure Island whites, the Santorini vineyards struggle in a very harsh environment that requires nestling the vines in individual dugouts. The combination of desert conditions and the inherent qualities of the grape somehow results in a white wine of high acidity and high ABV, a wine that bruises with elegance, oranges and smoked salt on both nose and palate. This is a lovely wine that proves that white wines don't need to be polite. Like any wine, they just need to be true. (Jan. 30, 2023)

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils, Chablis, Vieilles Vignes, 2018

One of the earliest Chablis producers I encountered. I think there's a good chance that I actually drank one of Collet's Premier Crus before the more renowned names, such as Raveneau, Dauvissat, Fevre. Back in the days when you could buy a Premier Cru from any of those four for less than 40 dollars, that's how far back I'm talking about. Those were the days when père Gilles ran the domaine. His son Romain took over fully with the 2008 vintage, so this is his eleventh vintage. It's a good Chablis, but a bit foursquare right now and still feels young-ish. I have another bottle that I'll try to keep around. (Jan. 15, 2023)

Domaine de Montbourgeau, l’Etoile, 2018

The Bourgogne Crown order form called this a Savagnin, the winery's site says this is mostly Chardonnay. It feels like it was coated with flor, but the winery site is terrible and barely readable. Googling US importers and wine stores was more productive. L'Etoile is one of the smallest Jura AOCs. The wine is aged for a year in foudres, where the wine is topped up, then an additional 3 years in 230 litre oak barrels, as well as 600 litre demi-muid under flor, with no topping. It's tempting to compare it to a Fino or a Manzanilla, as long as one recognizes that the cultivar is different, the process is different and the flor strain is probably different as well. Regardless, Fino and Manzanilla are a good reference point. It's a safe bet that the only people who experienced a Jura vin jaune before trying a sherry are the locals. A fino is where you learn to recognize the nutty, slightly medicinal notes that flor is responsible for. They are somehow more subdued and coarser at the same time. Is it because Chardonnay is a plumper grape than Fino Palomino and thus balances the flor differently? I like Fino and Manzanilla more at this point, but it's probably due to familiarity more than anything else. The ABV is lower, so I can drink more of it at a sitting. Definitely a plus.

Weingut Günther Steinmetz, Mosel, Piesporter Grafenberg, Riesling Kabinett, 2020

Lime, apricots and ashy rocks filtered through crushed ice. (Jan. 21, 2023)

Terra Vita Vinum, Anjou, Grand Vau, 2020

I don't think great Chenin Blancs jump out of the gates fully regaled. I think they first tease you into thinking they're heading in a heady, honeyed direction, before they compose and focus themselves and bring out their mineral-laden hair shirts. Jacky Blot's stuff is just like that, and so is this. Jacky's wines resolve into a ripe apples and chalk, while this is baked apples, spices and rainwater, but the dynamic and evolution are similar. Another winner from Cheers, stunning if you give it time. (Feb. 1, 2023)