Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WBW #46: Two Inexpensive Rhône Whites

Dr. Debs picked this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday theme with summer in mind. We decided to try two inexpensive Rhône whites since that was what was available.

The first selection was Parallèle “45” 2006 and here are excerpts from our wine selection process for your consumer habits study:

Taster A: “Oh, that’s half way to the North Pole…”
Taster B: “Yeah, that’s two degrees north of us—we should try it.”

Grapes: 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, 10% Bourboulenc. This wine was all about the zest: Lime zest…grapefruit zest…pith. While it had some tropical hints this isn’t a wine that I’d sip on the patio—it needs to be consumed with food. When it comes to wine and food pairings, occasionally we find a wine doesn’t work at all with a particular dish; most of the time it’s just neutral (neither competing with nor enhancing the meal); and then, every once in a while, we get lucky…

In Parallèle “45” we find an ideal pairing for pesto. The wine brought out dimensions of nuttiness in the pesto that were not present in the absence of this particular wine. Our second Rhône white was an acceptable match with the pesto, but didn’t exhibit the dynamic ‘greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts’ reaction with the dish. I will definitely seek this bottle out again when planning a summer pesto meal. It’s one of those rare matches made in heaven.

Our second selection, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2005, was less about the zest. We found some pleasant aromas of pear, lychee, lemon, marzipan and orange blossom. Conversely, the first taste of this wine smarts a bit. It’s very dry and mineral with grapefruit on the palate…Can’t say I was overly fond of it at first but, we hauled it out again for a meal of poached haddock seasoned with lemon, tarragon, and marjoram. Suddenly, this ugly duckling became a graceful swan. I get so caught up in the habit of ‘tasting’ wine that I forget to drink it sometimes. This is a drinking wine--it wants to be swallowed because of how it feels on the back of the tongue.

To get an idea of how remarkable this wine was paired with our seafood dish, just recall the driest most spartan wine you ever tasted. We’re talking about the kind of wine that puts a tiny vise on every taste bud and thumbscrews on both sides of your tongue. Now imagine this same wine, by virtue of the meal beside it, magically becoming buttery and rich. Can this really happen with a $12 table wine? I’m here to tell you it can.

Once paired with food, subtle flavors of melon began to emerge. At one point, the distinct aroma of fresh cut green grass opened up on the nose.

Thanks to Dr. Debs for hosting and picking this month’s theme for WBW. These wines reminded me of why I started this blog: Not just to post an endless stream of predictable tasting notes but, to relate an experience with a wine that was totally unexpected, or one that reminds me of a basic principal I knew once but had forgotten, or both.


Dr. Debs said...

Finding a white wine that goes with pesto: priceless. Thanks so much for participating, and glad that the Rhone whites threw you just enough curves to keep them interesting for you. I've never tasted zest in a Rhone white, so will have to look for that Parallele 45. Sounds interesting!

Dale Cruse said...

Sounds like you had as much fun with your Rhone-style white as I did on this Wine Blogging Wednesday!