Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One Wine Two Faces - 2012 Daou Grenache Blanc

I spend a lot of time looking for ways to learn more about wine. I look for new articles or books to read, new certifications I may want to purse, new topics to include in this ole' blog... I am searching all the time.  Sometimes, an opportunity to learn sneaks up on me... as it did last Friday night as we dined at home.  

Looking for something fairly easy to whip up for a Friday night, I opted for Mario Batali's Spaghetti with Artichoke and Pancetta (recipe).   We buy and blanche a ton of baby artichokes once a year when they are available at the Scottsdale Farmers Market, which makes the recipe a breeze. Oh, and it is soooooo good.  This dish is definitely built for a white wine, so I decided to pair it with a bottle of Daou Grenache Blanc that we picked up the last time we visited the winery. 

I have tried a few Grenache Blanc wines recently, including a very nice example from Chateau Potelle in Napa.  I didn't know much about the grape, other than its home is in the Rhone region of France, and that more winemakers have been dabbling in the varietal.  

The nose on this wine was very interesting, served right out of our wine fridge at about 50 degrees, there was some lemon, but also something a bit nutty - like hazelnut and another aroma I just couldn't figure out.  I have never experienced quite this same nutty type aroma in any dry white wine, so I was very intrigued, but at the same time wondered how well my pairing was going to taste.

The acid and lemon flavor profile elevated the taste of the pasta, and the parmesan cheese has a nutty component to it that paired really nicely with this wine.  Mostly luck - but I was very pleased with my choice...whew!

Without really looking to learn any thing new, I was so intrigued by this wine that I did a bit of reading about it. The wine is actually aged in French Oak for 7 months.  Outside of Chardonnay and a few versions of Sauvignon Blanc (sometimes bottled as Fumé Blanc), most white wines don't see much time in oak.  The time in oak is what must have imparted the nutty characteristic to this wine.  Based on other tasting notes I found, another aroma component identified was banana - which might have been the baffling aroma I noticed. You think you would be able to smell banana, but thrown in with many other aromas it does get difficult to distinguish.

A new wine that led me to learn more about a varietal I had just started trying... very cool, but the learning was not done for the night. After dinner the wife and I still had a glass each, and as we sat down to enjoy some cultural TV like Orphan Black or something else, the warmth of an Arizona spring brought up wine up over the usual white wine serving temperature.   The result - bye bye fruit and hello nuttiness in the nose and the taste. I have never experienced this with a wine before where the character changed so dramatically with a few degrees temperature change. If you read my posts you will know how important serving temperature is, but this change was amazing. The change was so dramatic in fact that I found myself with two glasses of the wine to enjoy, as Wino4life wife wasn't finding the change in the wine pleasant.  I could have stuck it in the fridge for 5 minutes, but I was fascinated by the new profile of the wine, so took one for the team and polished it off by myself. 

I do recommend this wine, as the change was due to temperature and if you keep the wine at the correct serving temperature you will find yourself enjoying a very delicious, interesting, and dare I say educational wine!

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