This week in my Wine Appreciation class, I had the opportunity to try three dry, white wines. One was from Oregon, the other from Germany and another from Argentina. Tasting them, I had no way of differentiating among the three as to where the grapes were grown or where the wine was bottled. And really, I had not even thought about grapes being produced in the southern hemisphere in places such as Argentina.
So I investigated. I learned that wine has been produced in Argentina since 1556, but wine making in the country has had a long road to make it to where it is today. According to Bottle Notes, Argentina is now the world’s fifth-largest producer of wine. That’s behind the countries I would normally think of, like Italy, France, the U.S. and Spain. And it’s interesting to note that Argentina only exports about 7 percent of its products. Their mass producing grapes are usually made into bulk wine that stays in country.
But you’re probably wondering, was the wine good? I tasted a 2011 Catena Chardonnay from made from Chardonnay grapes grown in Argentina’s Mendoza region. To me, it was an acceptable wine, but I wasn’t a huge fan. The wine was deep golden, and had a buttery and pear aroma. It definitely had some acidity and a lingering aftertaste, but the mouthfeel wasn’t too bad as dry wines go. I was a little thirsty, but the wine didn’t cause my teeth to chalk up. My favorite thing about this wine – the label:
It has a simple yet artistic label, drawing my eye to the pyramidal structure in the forefront of the picture. This wine was priced at $16 a bottle and with its buttery flavor, would go well with something buttery or fatty, perhaps salmon or a pork chop/cutlet.
The next wine was a 2011 Adelsheim Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, Oregon. My first whiff told me it would be a fruity selection, and it was. I tasted apples, with just a hint of peach in the background. The wine was crisp and did not linger in my mouth like other wines that I have tried. But characteristic of a dry, white wine, it was sour and had a lot of acidity, with almost a vinegar burn. It was priced at $17, my most expensive taste of the night.
My favorite wine of the night came from a 2011Valckenburg Gewurztraminer from Germany. It was lighter in color than the Argentinian – more of a honey yellow – and also less sour. The aroma was lighter, like a honeysuckle or rose floral scent and the wine was much smoother to taste. When I drank this wine, I tasted peach. It was much sweeter than other white wines. So I would pair this with a peach cobbler if I wanted to pair to compare, or to spice things up a little perhaps I would pair it with some Mexican food to bring out all the flavors. The wine is made from Gewurtztraminer grapes, and the name actually means “spiced Traminer.” Priced at $12 a bottle, I could see this wine gracing my table a lot easier than some other dry whites.
And maybe I’m showing how much of a beginner at wine appreciation that I am, but I’ve got to admit my favorite taste of the night was the Havarti dill cheese cube that I sampled to accompany my dry, white wines. Luckily, I have found plenty of places online that carry this cheese.