Minerals and Acid: White Wine’s Best
I think it’s incredibly important for every wine drinker, of every level of experience and knowledge, to learn what they like. I can tell you all about what I taste in a wine, I can talk about the balance, the acid and the sugar, the alcohol and the tannin, and on and on. But, as Jim Morris of Michel-Schlumberger once told my wife Heather and me, while we sat and sipped his winery’s stellar pinot blanc, “There are two kinds of wine in this world: yummy wine and yucky wine. Drink the yummy wine.”
Jim’s right, of course. While it’s a simplified view of wine that doesn’t make for compelling wine writing, the long and short of wine is enjoyment. Do you (or I, or anyone else) enjoy the wine you (or I, or that other person) are drinking?
It takes time to learn what you like, of course. There are plenty of people out there just drinking wine willy-nilly, making no mind of what it is about a specific wine they like. Is it the fruit? The acid? The alcohol? The astringent texture? The long finish? Is there nothing in particular that they do like, they just find the wine inoffensive?
Ambivalence is the most sinister emotion of the heart. Its darkenss sneaks up on us, takes us unaware, and makes us feel, well, nothing. And nothing is worse than nothing.
I say all this to bring up the following point: I know what I like. And when it comes to white wine, I know I like minerality, and chalk. I like acid, and crisp, clean flavor notes.
Luckily for me, this wine delivers on all those points.
The 2009 Intelligent Design Cuveé Blanc from Wesley Ashley Wines is a Central Coast blend of 50% viognier, 30% rousanne, and 20% grenache blanc.
The Rhône varietal blend expertly balances a not-insignificant 14.1% alcohol by volume. In the glass, it’s a lemony straw yellow, with the faintest hint of green. On the nose is a wonderful mix of fruit (apple and lemon), a custardy element, and some grassy, floral elements. My wife commented that the wine “almost smelled like beer,” and I think there is an herby, hoppy element to the floral notes on the nose.
The wine is light bodied, crisp and clean. Not much fruit on the palate, but great acid and some nice grassy notes. The finish is long, with tight, crisp mineral and chalk notes. There’s even this slight skinless almond note on the finish, really cool and different.
This wine is excellent. It’s really awesome, and more than that, it’s right up my alley. If you’re a big oaky-buttery chardonnay person when it comes to white wine, maybe this won’t be up yours.
But if your taste buds tingle and your mouth waters at the sounds of “mineral,” “chalk,” and “acid” when it comes to your white wine… well, what are you waiting for? Intelligent Design is the natural selection for your obviously-evolved palate.
Price Point: $34