It’s officially time for winter white wines.

 


We wine lovers think of winemakers like celebrities. Much like chefs, we want our winemakers to flex creative muscle to create potpourris of grapes in the bottle. Look out, varietal wine. Blends have arrived. This isn’t news to most, but it’s a trend that’s here to stay. We want to witness varietal synergy in our glasses and feel assured that only the best grapes from each vintage have been used. But then there’s a certain, centuries-old iconic blend associated with a certain historic French region. This blend has had many imitators from around the globe. It has a huge following in California where winemakers are adapting and adding new grapes to the original recipes. I am talking about the Rhône-style. And in this case, I’d like to focus on the Rhône-style-whites. They are unctuous, aromatic, and warming – the perfect wintertime white wine.

Rhône-style whites are traditionally made using Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc in various configurations. While New World regions put their own spin on Rhône-style blends, there’s nothing like the real thing. Real-deal white Rhône-style blends are available at incredible values. These values are often better than their New World counterparts. Check out six of my recent favorites below.
Marrenon Grand Marrenon Luberon Blanc 2014, $14

Round and chubby aromas of juicy white peach, tangerine and potpourri on the nose. Thick and silky in the mouth with chewy candy tropical fruits, fresh melon and lemon zest, this is mouth coating and carries a bit of heft with it, but is a bit lighter towards the finish, with excellent length, cantaloupe and chamomile flowers, with a dusting of oak spice to finish.

Michel Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes 2014, $17

Lemon meringue, peach and green apple aromas, somewhat simple but pronounced and pleasant. This has a tart, round and creamy palate of grapefruit, lemon and pear with restrained oak spice and zesty acidity yielding to dried herb towards the finish and a slow fading warmth.

Domaine de Fondreche Ventoux Blanc 2014, $18

Emollient and lightly citrusy in the glass with fresh cut flowers, minerally dried apricot and tart lemon. Lemony and full bodied in the mouth, this is commanding and rich, full of fruit and just enough acidity to cut through the oiliness with more lemon and grapefruit, rounding out the finish with a touch of dry stone and more fresh flowers.

Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc 2015, $19

Floral lemon and sunflower seed notes with candied citrus peel and a touch of melon. Fleshy and warm on the palate, this has good lemon fruit flavors and a creamy nuttiness towards the mid palate that adds another dimension of almond and macadamia nuts, finishing with more citrus blossom and a squeeze of peach preserves.

J.L. Chave Celeste Saint-Joseph 2012, $30

Beautiful nose of honeyed pear and elderflower with light lemon and grapefruit notes and a hint of oak spice. Silky smooth  in the mouth on entry, this is redolent of peach cobbler with fresh green apple and ripe melon notes and a creamy toast alongside a buttery finish of hazelnut and wooded spice. 91 pts.

Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2015, $32

Floral blossom, white peach and golden apple aromas with lemon shortbread and sun dried hay notes on the nose. Unctuous, creamy and full bodied with generous baked apple, persimmon and peach fruit, a vanilla cream center and a lemon drop candied note delicate on the edges. Finishes with excellent length and more creaminess

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