Tag Archives: white blends

A-pour-priate

Once in a while, I stumble across a wine that parallels my life. It happens rarely – so rarely that when it does, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some omnipotent Wine God up there, occasionally deigning to point a grape-stained finger towards the perfect pour.

Given the jumbled bundle of feelings that I’ve been lately, I never would have believed that a wine could adequately express my thoughts. Leaving behind family, friends, & familiarity for life in the big city has done a number on many idealistic young writers. I count myself among their ranks.

But the clouds opened last Saturday, when I tasted Loose End at Clo on Columbus Circle (a wine bar deserving of its own post, which will come – hopefully sooner rather than later).

Loose End FSR

Loose End FSR is a white blend hailing from Australia’s Barossa Valley region. The FSR stands for its composition: 50% Frontignac, 36% Semillon, and 14% Riesling.

Most of us are familiar with light, sweet, lilting flavors of Riesling, and some have heard of Semillon, a favorite among dessert wine lovers for its sometimes cloyingly sweet “noble rot.” But Frontignac is essentially unknown.

According to Foster’s Wine Dictionary, Frontignac is a cousin of the sweet Muscat grape that lends “intense floral, perfume, rose water, and spice” flavors and fragrance to the wine.

Given this syrupy trifecta, one might expect Loose End FSR to be the Aunt Jemima of wine: powerfully, sickeningly, cloyingly sweet.

Fortunately, it’s not. Like my beloved Caymus Conundrum, Loose End is a bright flowerbomb, with a nose that transports me to the rose gardens at Sonnenberg in Canandaigua (can you tell I’m homesick? I hardly ever visited the gardens while I was there, much less bothered to stop and smell them).

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It’s wine to drink on its own, or with something simple – a cranberry scone, perhaps, or a berry tart; no steaks or salmon here.

Unfortunately, my comparison to Conundrum ends there.

Loose Ends is Conundrum with an inner-ear infection: off balance, unfocused, lost and confused. The delicate floral sweetness turns strong and off-putting at the end – perhaps it’s the famous noble rot gone awry. It is a finish that fits the name perfectly.

But not all hope is lost. This wine has potential. Given the right year, with the right circumstances and blend, I think that Loose End might just have a shot at greatness.

Like I said, it was a perfectly appropriate pour.

the wine: 2008 Loose End FSR
composition: 50% Frontignac, 36% Semillion, 14% Riesling
hails from: Barossa Valley, Australia
flavor profile: extremely floral, light, with ending notes of boytris rot
tannins: none
approximate cost:
I paid $11 for my glass; expect to find it by the bottle at $16-$20

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sweet dilemma.

it’s spring, and i’m a cheat.

as the weather in new york has shifted, so have my tastes in wine. in the course of a few weeks, i’ve shamelessly abandoned my wintertime lovers – strong, heavy, hedonistic reds with a ton of juice and tannins for days – for light and airy whites that look nothing like their dark and handsome counterparts.

suddenly, i can’t stop buying bright spanish albarinos, apple-tart verdejos, and new york rieslings that would shudder at the touch of oak. floral, fresh, light, sweet: i’ll take it, without a backward glance at the thick reds that filled my glass and warmed me during those endless chilly nights.

as long as i’ve admitted to playing fast and loose with my wine morals, i may as well make another confession: this spring, i’ve strayed from the semi-predictable world of traditional whites to the schizophrenically-confusing california varietal.

it’s not an easy wine to love. some are amazing, some amazingly bad.

amazing: caymus’ conundrum ($26).

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perhaps fittingly, i first tasted conundrum during one of my first nights in grad school. condundrum is only offered by the bottle at alto cinco, but the bartender that evening had a table who had left a bottle unfinished. (quel horreur!)

it was my lucky night.

condundrum is, without question, the most perfectly balanced white wine i’ve ever come across. it’s silky and lush, with a slight citrus bite working in perfect counterpoint to a soft, vanilla-floral backdrop.

it’s jaw-droppingly, mind-numbingly, drink-a-whole-bottle-without-a-second-thought good.

it’s also way out of my price range. talk about a conundrum!

(ba-da-bah! i’ll be here all night.)

so, like any good pauper, i’ve taken to searching for a decent imitation.

problem is, the quest for a passable conundrum knockoff is turning out to be as difficult as finding a perfect chanel bag replica in the backstreets of chinatown. maybe even harder. i’ve tried several, which i’ll be reviewing in future posts. some are passable, and some are downright good, but all of them pale in comparison to my beloved blend.

no matter the difficulties. i’ll keep looking.  it’s bad enough to be cheating on reds this spring. i hate to think how my wallet is feeling.

the wine: 2007 caymus conundrum
composition: only the vintners know; that’s the conundrum. according to the website, it’s a blend of napa valley sauvignon blanc, tulare county muscat, chardonnay and viognier grapes. a little of this and a little of that, really.
hails from: monterey, california
flavor profile: smooth and bright, citrusy and fragrant.
tannins: peek out from behind, lending structure and complexity to the wine (about 3/4 of the conundrum grapes are oak-aged)
accolades: 88 pts., wine spectator
approximate cost:
$25-28

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