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Recent Sips of Other Interesting Whites

Two surprisingly outstanding Pinot Blancs are included in this list of wines. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris arose as independent somatic mutations of Pinot Noir. Somatic mutation is a natural mechanism that allows plant growers to develop new cultivars. Research reported in the Journal of Experimental Botany (November 2012) found that this mutation of Pinot Noir arose independently from the ancestral Pinot Noir, suggesting a novel parallel evolutionary model.

Pinot Blanc is fairly widely planted worldwide, but has never received the attention accorded other major white varieties. It probable has garnered its most notoriety from examples grown in northern Italy and Alsace. Its flavor profile mimics Chardonnay, but is lighter and less assertive. New World styles of Pinot Blanc range from a stainless steel fermented, bright, mineral-driven and timid wine to a wine resembling a fat, creamy Chardonnay. Many examples are driven by subtlety, sometimes to the point of blandness, giving the wine a bad rap. No one can say for sure exactly what a great New World Pinot Blanc should be, but the two examples reviewed here will point the drinker in the right direction.

2011 Cutruzzola Riven Rock Vineyard San Luis Obispo Riesling

12.5% alc., $22. Fermented in stainless steel. · Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of lemon curd, vanilla, oiled wood and leather boot. Enjoyable flavors of lemon and white peach with a hint of petrol in the background. Slightly creamy with good finishing acidity. A unique expression of dry Riesling. Score: 89

2013 Dutton Goldfield Chileno Valley Vineyard Marin County Riesling

13.2% alc., 380 cases, pH 3.31, TA 0.56, residual sugar dry, $30. From a dry farmed vineyard planted by the Corda family in 1991 to several varieties. When Mark Pasternak took over the farming, he budded everything to Pinot Noir except for 4 acres of Riesling. Harvest in two picks - one on October 22 and one on November 26. 100% stainless steel fermented. · Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Lovely aromas of peach, grapefruit and a touch of floral goodness. Juicy and flavorful, featuring crisp notes of citrus and white peach with some pleasingly discreet richness, slight creaminess, and a bone dry finish. Delightful. Score: 90

2013 Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Shop Block Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Blanc

12.8% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.56, 339 cases, $25. Warren Dutton’s original Graton Road ranch was planted to French Colombard and Gray Riesling when purchased in 1964. In the 1970s, he replaced the Riesling with apples and French Colombard. When it was time to replant the block in 2003, the Duttons decided on Pinot Blanc to augment the adjacent Chardonnay. The vineyard is dry farmed. Stainless steel fermented, partial MLF. · Pale straw color and clear in the glass. Luscious aroma of fresh peaches lemon peel, roasted almonds and the air after a heavy rain. Crisp on the palate, with an intense peach flavor which expands joyously in the mouth and clings to the finish forever. A bit of lemon, lime, grapefruit and vanilla flavors add interest. Beautifully balanced with well-integrated acidity and a silken mouth feel. This is one sexy peach of a wine. Score: 92

2012 Golan Heights Winery Galilee Israel Moscato

7% alc., $14. Grapes grown in the volcanic soils of the Golan Heights. Fermentation blocked early to produce an aromatic wine that is lively and semi dry. Kosher for Passover. · Pale golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Highly aromatic with vivid aromas of peach, mango and lychee. Vibrant and flavorful core of white peach with accents of lychee and nuts. Soft and smooth on the palate with some, but not overbearing, sweetness. Ideal chilled as an aperitif or an accompaniment to a peach dessert such as peach melba. Score: 88

2012 Harper Voit Maresh Vineyard Old Vine Dundee Hills Riesling

12.2% alc., pH 2.95, TA 0.895, residual sugar 1.3%, 75 cases, $25. From own-rooted, gnarled vines planted in 1979. No MLF. · Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Aromas of citrus, honeysuckle and petrol lead to flavors of grapefruit, Asian pear and lemon with a citrus-infused, off-dry, and electric finish. A wine searching for food. Score: 88

2012 Harper Voit Surlie Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc

13.6% alc., pH 3.10, 225 cases, $20. Sourced from Crannell Vineyard in the Eola- Amity Hills and Meredith Mitchell Vineyard in McMinnville. Barrel fermented in used French oak, no MLF, aged on lees for 9 months. · Very light golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Highly aromatic with effusive aromas of baked apple, Limoncello, pear, pastry cream and a subtle yeasty note. Delicious and bright on the palate with an array of layered flavors including apple, pear, and citrus, finishing with a green apple note and palate cleansing acidity. This is the most interesting Pinot Blanc I have ever had from Oregon, and a great shellfish wine. Score: 91

2012 Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling

12.5% alc., pH 3.12, residual sugar 0.41%, 798 cases, $27. Vines grown in red, rocky volcanic soil. 5.5 acres of 40-year-old, dryfarmed Riesling planted along with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon adjacent encroaching forest of Madrone - hence the name. · Pale yellow color and clear in the glass. Delicate aromas of lemon zest, green apple, peach and toast. Flavorful range of citrus fruits and peach with a note of iron-driven minerality and bright acidity. Has the goods to age for many years. Score: 90

NV Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution American White Wine

12.0% alc., residual sugar 1.2%, $15. A blend of 9 white varietals including Pinot Gris, White Riesling, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Müller- Thurgau, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Chardonnay. 17th edition. Fermented in 100% stainless steel, fff dry. · A unique wine that offers no special varietal correctness. The aromas are complex and include lemon, dried mango, honeysuckle, pastry cream and roasted almonds. On the palate, the delicately flavored wine is bright and easy to like, with tastes of pineapple, pear eau de vie, spice and citrus infused with bright, refreshing acidity and a very slight finishing sweetness. Very versatile at the table, and can shine with Thai curry, Tandoori chicken, spicy tune rolls or baked sole with lemon butter. Score: 88

2012 Yalumba “Y” South Australia Viognier

14.5% alc., $9.49, screwcap. Imported by Negociants USA Inc., Napa, CA. Yalumba has quite a reputation for Viognier, but this is their entry level offering. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery. · Light golden color and clear in the glass. Marked reduction upon opening with strong burnt match aromas. Soft and pleasing on the palate with flavors of lemon curd, grilled pineapple, and mango. Much better two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with no reduction evident and more vivid tropical fruit flavors, although still somewhat dilute. Score: 86

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