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Young, fresh and crisp
Summer white wines
are at their best consumed early
“You could see lofty-looking alpacas
and goats munching on weeds
that attracted bugs
that eat pests
that harm the vines”
by Simone Zarmati Diament
What can be more rewarding than a light, delicate chardonnay or a crisp sauvignon blanc for summer drinking while watching a sunset or sweating over the BBQ? A torrontés.
The best torrontés wine I know of – the grapes are derivatives of Muscat – is from Salta, Argentina. But Mendoza has come up with an answer with Trivento Torrontes 2008.
Across the Andes, Chile is bringing us an organic chardonnay and a couple of sauvignon blancs from different regions. These wines from 2008 are best consumed young. They are imported and distributed in the US by Banfi Vintners Imports.
Emiliana 'Natura' Chardonnay 2008(Casablanca Valley, Chile) $11
A juicy, crisp white, it is lightly oaked with ripe tropical fruit balanced by zesty acidity and chalky minerality. Vibrant and fresh it can be sipped as an apéritif or paired with dishes from grilled salmon to pasta in a cream sauce.
When I first met Chilean oenologist Alvaro Espinoza in 1999, at Carmen, one of Chile's top wineries, he was in the midst of shaping the future: the graduate of the University of Bordeaux who had also worked at Fetzer’s Bonterra winery in California was applying organic and biodynamic principles of agriculture to the vineyards.
Of course, no pesticides or chemicals. You could see lofty-looking alpacas and goats munching on weeds that attracted bugs that eat pests that harm the vines. You’d see Alvaro picking bugs in his mud-caked hands to show how these would end up being beneficial to vines. In short he was treating the soil as a living organism to balance the entire vineyard and winery environment with the world at large.
Today Espinoza is working with the Guilisasti family, the owners of Viñedos Emiliana, and with winemaker Antonio Bravo to make their 'Natura' wines from organically grown grapes. Since 1998, Emiliana in Chile’s Casablanca Valley has become the largest organic grower in Chile with more than 1700 acres of their vineyard land certified organic and biodynamic.
Trivento Torrontes 2008 (Mendoza Argentina) $9 to 11.00
Golden yellow with a soft and beguiling nose of summer fruit with whiffs of rose and violets this medium-bodied wine is a very enjoyable 100% torrontes varietal.
When served cold, you can’t possibly feel the 13.5% of alcohol since it is so crisp with a refreshing acidity, some minerality. Even though it is so aromatic with hints of peach and rose petals on the palate, it remains a clean, dry wine with a great finish which does well as an aperitif, and is great with food such as appetizers, Asian foods, fish, poultry and desserts
Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Concha y Toro, Central Valley, Chile) $12.00
Straw in color with green hues, this sauvignon blanc is light-bodied with a fresh and citric nose with notes of peaches and hints of gooseberry. Gentle, round and mouthfilling it exhibits a crisp acidity and a clean finish. It should be served chilled and paired with ceviche, oysters, sushi and seafood.
Palo Alto Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ( Maule Valley, Chile) $13.00
Pale yellow color with citrus, gooseberry and grass on the nose, this wine develops on the palate with crisp, fresh citrus flavors tempered with mineral and herbal notes and a sharp acidity on the finish. It pairs well with seafood and salads.