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Issue 135, December 2014

Editorial    Summary of Editorial column
 The Wisdom of White Wines
I guess the title is making most of our readers think wines have, like to say, a conscious life and intelligence, such to give them wisdom, that rare quality time, sometimes, gives some persons. Wisdom is a quality commonly … [more]

Wine Tasting    Summary of Wine Tasting column
 Contrasts of Sagrantino and Sangiovese
Contrasts of transparencies: on  the left Sagrantino di Montefalco; on the right Brunello di Montalcino
This month we are comparing Sagrantino di Montefalco and Brunello di Montalcino's Sangiovese. Two magnificent grapes yet very different, both capable of making excellent wines.… [more]
 Wines of the Month
Collio Rosso 2009, Borgo del Tiglio (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Cilento Fiano Pietraincatenata 2012, Collio Rosso 2009, Collio Malvasia 2011, Cilento Aglianico Cenito 2010, Barbaresco Riserva Oro 2009, Barbaresco Canova 2010, Piave Raboso Riserva Rabià 2009, Crognolo 2012… [more]

Events    Summary of Events column

Grappa Riserva di Sagrantino di Montefalco, Lungarotti (Umbria, Italy)
Review of Grappa, Distillates and Brandy, Grappa Riserva di Sagrantino di Montefalco… [more]
 Wine Parade

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  Editorial Issue 135, December 2014   
The Wisdom of White WinesThe Wisdom of White Wines  Contents 
Issue 134, November 2014 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 136, January 2015

The Wisdom of White Wines

 I guess the title is making most of our readers think wines have, like to say, a conscious life and intelligence, such to give them wisdom, that rare quality time, sometimes, gives some persons. Wisdom is a quality commonly associated to experience and maturity, characteristics which can be acquired with time only. The contribution of time is rarely associated to white wines as, in most of the cases, it is believed these wines are destined to a quick consumption, just in time before the next vintage. I confess I have always had a certain predilection for mature white wines, those to which has been allowed to benefit of time in order to get the chance of aging and evolving, while becoming, in this sense, more wise and rich. Wisdom, like to say, is mainly expressed by a richer organoleptic complexity, in other words, a wine requiring a higher attention while giving back more intense and rich emotions.


 In this sense, it is interesting to go a little back in time - indeed, not so far - when the “fad” wanted crisp and immediate white wines, very young wines and with pale colors. A fad which is not still passed and taking its origin about few tens of years ago. At those times, in fact, white wines with a pale and light color were very common, they were so pale as to be oddly defined “paper white”, like to say, you cannot get a white whiter than this. Discolored wines - or better to say, deprived from their yellow color - by using an aggressive and violent filtering process in order to make them pale and inexpressive in their appearance. A process which did not end in the winery and filtering only, it was something taking its origin from the vineyard, where everything was aimed to the production of a wine destined to a short life, just the time it took for the next harvesting.

 The fad has been successfully fed both by the market and producers who, more or less pleased by this fad, have contributed to feed it and adapted themselves to the circumstance, by producing white wines destined to an immediate consumption. Most of the consumers have adapted themselves to this fad too and - when they were about to pick a wine at a restaurant - they preferred with no hesitation the most recent vintages. White wines of the past vintage, as soon as the ones of the new harvesting were released, were considered “old” and, in this case, it meant a decrepit wine and not drinkable anymore. A vicious fad in which obsolescence become aggressive and quick, something similar to what it is happening to smart-phones and computers which, in just one year or so, they are considered surpassed and old, therefore to be replaced. By acting like so, we believe we are modern and keeping up with times but, to be confident, it seems we need a better awareness and wisdom, maybe renewed and more modern.

 I am not saying I do not like young white wines, even those evidently made for an immediate consumption: sometimes they are immature and predictable, even though there are so many which can be considered amazing. I however admit when I go to “trusted” restaurants, in case I see a mature white wine - and, of course, a wine of which I know about its quality of taking advantage of time - I always choose that. It should be said, when I make this choice I always cross my fingers and hope they properly kept the bottle during its amazing journey in time. Sometimes the choice is disappointing, a risk which is also taken with red wines that, by looking at their labels, they clearly state their age. In that case, the reasonableness of the restaurateur offers the replacement of the bottle, in case - of course - this was agreed before uncorking the bottle, saved the cases of evident keeping faults or cork taint.

 It is now some years I am glad to see the number of producers offering non vintage white wines is constantly increasing. It is the sign consumer are becoming aware of the fact white wines can also give huge emotions after having took advantage of time. A characteristic that - in any case - must originate from vineyard as well as adopting the highest strictness and rigor from winery to glass. In this sense, there are no big differences from red wines: in both cases they must be produced with the explicit goal of giving them the chance to evolve with time, and sometimes this is a risky task. Not all white wines, just like reds, are suited for the long aging, but in case they are made with this specific goal in mind, in most of the cases you get a stellar wine. This is particularly true for whites, as time can attenuate the strong organoleptic impact of yeast - either selected or indigenous, it makes not difference - therefore allowing the true character of the wine and grapes to be revealed.

 In my personal cellar I have many mature white wines, waiting for the right occasion and the right time - mine and of the wine - to be uncorked. A symphony of aromas giving a new and renewed dimension, like to say, a rich and wise tale only time could teach to that wine. It is a feast of complex and rich sensations which may be considered “odd” to the ones preferring the so called “fruity” wines or maybe very careless in listening to a wine. The idea some producers - while others were doing this for a very long time - are supporting the concept of production and commercialization of mature white wines, it is something I really like. Many producers have always believed in this and have done this for a long time, while facing hard times in trying to sell their wines to a market mainly requiring wines of the latest vintage only and to be forgotten with the next harvesting. Others, which may have been tempted by the idea, are trying to follow this trend, at last. This is probably the consequence of the higher awareness of certain consumers who are not interested in those easy wines and being similar to hundreds of other ones. Maybe this is just a new wine fad, one of the many already seen in the past. In the hope it is going to last for a very long time, I make a toast with a white wine. Mature and wise, with some years lived in meditation inside the bottle, of course.

Antonello Biancalana

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  Wine Tasting Issue 135, December 2014   
Contrasts of Sagrantino and SangioveseContrasts of Sagrantino and Sangiovese Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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