Old World style white wines from Avanguardia
If you look around you can find a small group of American wineries that are not following the crowd or the critics. Instead, these wineries are following the grapes to produce individual, authentic wines. I really enjoy finding these wines and sharing them with friends. Recently, we received a sample of wines from Avanguardia winery, and I have to tell you about them.
Rob Chrisman, the owner, viticulturist, and winemaker at Avanguardia, seems to be driven to blend wines in an Old World kind of way. Starting with more than 20 varietals selected from Russia, Italy, France, and the hybrid gardens of the viticulture laboratories at UC Davis, Rob produces both red and white wines of very distinctive character and charm.
Last night, the WineEnabler crew tried the 2006 Selvatico and 2006 Cristallo. The Selvatico is made from about 50% Tocai Friulano with Peverella and Forastera thrown in along with the possible addition of small amounts of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Melon de Bourgogne. The result is a delightfully light and expressive wine that fills the glass with crème fraîche, minerals, and cathedrals (not the musty part, but the smell of damp stones and Faith). In the mouth, the Selvatico has a creamy texture with plenty of acid and a fine mineral quality. This wine would pair perfectly with a warm summer’s day or a plate of prosciutto.
The Cristallo features the Rkatsiteli grape from Georgia in combination with Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Melon de Bourgogne. The ’06 offering is a medium-full bodied, wine. The nose is somewhat subdued with hints of mineral and perhaps a little pear. The first sip, however, will show you the Cristallo’s real strength — its mouth feel. Smooth, refreshing with plenty of acid and a long finish, this is a truly enjoyable wine. Not a lot of fruit, but great feel and texture.
Rob Chrisman does not make wines that invoke images of exploding fruit or buttery wood chips with some apple, but he does make wines that offer a wonderful wine drinking experience. And while you sip one of Rob’s wonderful white wines, try to imagine all the other possibilities that exist in the underused varietals from around the world.
(Disclaimer: these wines were sent to us as a sample.)
Check out these related posts: