Why white wines should not always be drunk young …

Here’s my dirty little secret: I love white wines. In WineLine #26, way back in January 2003 before these online scribblings were called blogs, I issued an impassioned defense of white wines. Sometimes, I even think I prefer white wines to red, though I’m egalitarian enough to avoid such statements as a rule. I may feel a little more excitement over a white, but is that because I don’t expect as much from it? As consumers, we often think of red wines as the more “serious” contenders for our appreciation. White wine is merely the front band for the main attraction.

And of course, we tend to think of white wines as young and fresh, to be consumed within a year or two of vintage. Oh sure, we might age a white Burgundy or a Riesling with a long, unpronounceable German name (the longer the name, the more ageworthy the wine). But be honest – when you rummage around in your cellar or closet or under your staircase and you pull out a bottle of white more than two years old, don’t you cringe? Aren’t you wondering if you’ve waited too long, wasted that money, missed that opportunity – and then you put the bottle back, figuring it would certainly be tired or vinegar and unsuitable for dinner?

So I was curious tonight when my wife pulled out a bottle of Villa Sparina Gavi 2007 – an odd-shaped flask to catch my eye, for one thing, and obviously a sample given me some time ago and forgotten. (That’s another dirty little secret of wine writers. We can’t possibly taste as much as we’d like to. Yes, it’s a perk. Yes, it’s work. And yes, it’s fun.)

How old was this? The winery website and the local distributor, Bacchus Importers, list the 2010 as the current vintage, with an SRP of about $20. I love  Italian white wines, and I was impressed at how well this 2007 tasted – cold, straight out of the fridge, it showed fairly crisp peach and apricot flavors, with its acidity perhaps tamed a bit by its age. Once warm, though – and by warm I mean just slightly cooler than room temperature – the wine exhibited ripe peach and mango flavors with the hint of talc characteristic of Gavi. It was quite beguiling. A truly lovely wine, and well worth the wait.

(Villa Sparina is imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates of New York, N.Y.)


About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of DrinkLocalWine.com, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (dmwineline.com).
This entry was posted in Food and Drink, Italy, Weblogs, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why white wines should not always be drunk young …

  1. Pingback: Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog » Daily Wine News: A Great Vintage

  2. Allen Clark says:

    Even more rare – the white released aged to begin with. Best example of this are the viuras of Heredia, current releases being the 2002 Gravonia Crianza and the 1996 Tondonia Gran Reserva. Wonderful stuff, albeit probably an acquired taste for many. Unlike the long-lived German rieslings, the Heredia whites are not at all sweet, quite nutty and herbal. Love ’em.

  3. Wow! A Gavi with some age on it? Is there supposed to be some nuttiness to it?

    Me, I’m a white Burgundy fan — not that I can afford them anymore! For those of you with the big bucks, Jadot C-M Les Desmoiselles is the way to go…

    Bonne Mare

  4. Jennifer M. says:

    I recently had a Riesling that was 7 years old (long-forgotten in my in-laws wine closet), and it was great! Perhaps not as crisp as when it was first bottled, but subtle with flavors of pear and honey.

    I prefer my whites to be chilled, then allowed to warm up a bit. I think the flavors come through so much more. In this economy, I don’t think any of us can afford to throw wine away, just because it has a few years on it 🙂

  5. I tasted a Clos St Hune 1983 at a 2010 tasting, in the presence of Mr. Trimbach and his daughter. I will never forget this magnificent bottle of Riesling.
    Mr. Clark, I was not familiar with the Heredia whites and now, I can’t wait to try one. Thx!

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