Mutation is a natural part of grape evolution and how wine styles develop. The mutation usually happens spontaneously from red grape to white grape, and once the mutation happens that individual vine and any grafted or propagated new vines from it will be white going forward. Some grapes are more prone to mutations than others, Pinot Noir probably most famously for it, with the popular mutants Pinot Gris/Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier being heavily propagated. Tempranillo Blanco is a similar mutation, but is much less famous on its own and only an occasional blending grape in traditional White Riojas. From just an educational standpoint, it's a must-try for just about everyone, as well as anyone looking for a fun white wine to mix things up over the warm season ahead. Floral white fruits aromas with a bit of tropical low acidity guava/banana tones, like it could be from a much warmer climate. The palate is soft and juicy but not low acidity as the nose would seem, with a nice lime and citrus skin zesty note to the finish that gives it a very refreshing feel. Nice with a chill on its own or paired with lighter seafood.
Several weeks ago we had the pleasure of doing a Saturday store tasting with Ancient Peaks Winery and their regional representative Jenalyn Johnson. Along with the wines we have in the store, she brought a few new and unique items from their portfolio for the staff to taste, and this was one of the standouts we had to bring in. The One Stone label was created by Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, board member and daughter of Ancient Peaks founder Karl Wittstrom. Amanda created the non-profit organization Dream Big Darling in 2018 to aid and encourage women in the wine and spirits industry, and One Stone allows them to both promote the project and put their intentions into practice. Aside from the good intentions, the wine inside the bottle is what counts, and you get exceptional quality at a very fair price. Anchored by Pinot Noir from the Ancient Peaks Santa Margarita Ranch property (more fruit from other vineyards in the Central Coast may be added in future vintages as the project grows), the nose is pure and fresh with lots of dry cherry skin and watermelon that gets more floral as it warms up. This isn't a Rose you would want to do overly chilled as it dilutes the pretty characters of good Pinot Noir. The palate is equally refreshing and dry with nice minerality and slight hints of skin tannins, showing nervy strawberry and red fruits without any sweet or candied notes. A serious Rose at a seriously good price.
We don't usually go back-to-back with wines from the same country in the Insider's Pick, as we want to spread the love around to all the interesting wines available here from around the world. But this new arrival is one of the better all-around warm weather red wine values you will find, and with the weather forecast starting to get chocked full of 80+ degree days, it might be a good time to get a few more wines like this at the ready. While the dried grape wine of the region -Amarone- is the most famous, basic Valpolicella and Valpolicella Classico are the life blood of the region and one of Italy's top sources of value. Corvina is the workhorse grape variety here, with varying amounts of Rondinella and Molinara blended in depending on the wine. This is the de facto red wine by the carafe you will find in Northeast Italy in most cafes from Verona to Venice, a wine many of the world's travelers have sampled over the last few centuries. 'Classico' refers to the original growing area designated for Valpolicella prior to a near tripling in size in the late 1960s, and also indicates a slightly higher minimum alcohol standard. Think of it as the Italian parallel to an everyday Beaujolais, refreshingly juicy and earthy, and even works well with a bit of a chill to it (or at the very least Wine Warehouse's store temperature of 60 degrees). Savory dark cherry skin and dried raspberries on the nose with a touch of anise underneath, gets prettier as it opens up but never really gets fruity. The palate has a slightly citrus tartness to the dried berry flavor, and slightly dusty light tannins to the finish. When done cooler the wine tends to be less expressive but also shows less tartness and more of the red fruits, so you can play with where your particular tastes lie. An ideal multi-purpose wine for summertime backyard dining.
Grapes are peculiar things, complicated in their subtleties and personalities. It's never as straightforward as just planting a grape in a vineyard, there are various clones and biotypes within each variety that can have an effect on the final wine flavor and quality. Most of these differences evolve (naturally or 'forced') to have vines be more productive or better resistance to environmental issues, and often the ones that show the best finished quality of wine end up being the ones with more deficiencies in these areas. Which brings us to the story of this wine, when in the 1970s many producers in the Piedmont region started to plant 'new' clones of Dolcetto that were touted as being more prolific but made a simpler wine. At the time most Dolcetto was built to be straightforward anyway and volume was more important, but some like the Vajra family preferred the older heritage clones. Over the course of six years the family collected these older clones (identifiable by their unique red stalk close to the clusters) and grafted them into parcels in their Coste di Vergne and Fossati vineyards in Barolo. The wine made from these two parcels is routinely one of the best versions of Dolcetto available, always pulling in a little extra layer of character and quality. Deep plum and cool dark fruits on the nose with a savory dried thyme note and a touch of cola, more deep and nuanced than usually found here. The palate is rich and full, soft and a bit grapey at first but getting some savory texture and a bit of fine polished tannin at the finish, and building more black cherry notes as it opens up. A great food wine, especially for those that may not like the acidity of a Nebbiolo or Barbera, and one of the best options for rich comfort foods like stews or lasagna.
The Best of the Best.
We offering free tastings on these wines in the store every Thursday and Friday, and a 10% discount off the retail price through the duration of the day. Come on by and give them a try!