Killer Whites

Being chosen as Riedel’s Sommelier of the Month has been an honor, and has helped me learn and grow as a sommelier. Throughout this month, I’ve been able to practice what I preach by decanting all sorts of wines, and enjoying the experience and experiment of it all.  Watching my guests enjoy these various wines poured out of beautiful decanters has been awesome. I’ve realized how much decanters heighten the pleasure of enjoying wine, both on the practical level of helping the wines open and removing sediment, as well as the seductive nature of creating a performance that the guests, the wine, and the sommelier are all players.


The final tasting of the month focused exclusively on white wines. Without a doubt white wine never gets as much attention or praise as it should, even the world class ones. With this tasting, I wanted to demonstrate that whites are equally, if not more deserving than red wine of being decanted. I chose amazing wines, many from top producers and regions, to illustrate this point. Honestly this was my favorite of the four tastings I hosted with the Riedel decanters because I’ve never gotten to experience how 6 white wines grow with time in a decanter. Below are my thoughts from the tasting, enjoy!


Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre 2012 – This was the only wine I didn’t decant. I didn’t think that decanting would do much for the wine, plus starting with a wine from the bottle helped create a bigger spectacle when the decanters were used. As always this wine is a quintessential example of Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre – gooseberries, grass clips, a smoky minerality, some grapefruit, and a sense of summer.


Domaine Costal Chablis Vallions 1er 2011 – I did a quick splash decant in the Face to Face decanter, the faces allowed me to beat the wine up a bit helping it open quickly.  This was a rather delightful example of Chablis made in a friendlier style with some ML and barrel. It was loaded with yellow apples, some smoke tones and a rounded minerality. It was not in the lean and ripping acidity camp of Chablis, just delicious with plenty of complexity.


Huët Vouvray Le Mont Sec 2011 – Huët is a winery I’ve always appreciated, but after this tasting its one that will be added to my personal cellar in greater quantities! Le Mont is one of the greatest vineyards in Vouvray, and as expected this wine was packed with minerality and ridiculous acid. It was great now, but has a long life ahead of it. I did a quick decant with the Swan decanter, I wanted it to have plenty of air contact in the wider base. Outside of a couple Savennières, I’ve never had a more powerful Chenin Blanc. The wine continuous evolved in the glass showing off lanolin, peaches, honey, smoke, minerality, and just the pure force of a world class wine. Incredible that its only $35 retail!

FX Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Liebenberg 2012 – Its always a treat to pull the corks on Pichler’s wines. Every Pichler wine I’ve ever had needs more time to open up, so before the tasting started I poured it into the Bliss decanter and put it back in the fridge. It had more than an hour to open, and it still could have used more time. At first the wine showed a lot of banana esters, but resolved into all of the classic Grüner notes – white pepper, peaches, floral tones, minerality, and plenty of depth. You should always decant Pichler’s wines.


Foradori Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco 2012 – Elisabetta is a powerful and elegant woman, and I think her wines mimic her personality. The Manzoni Bianco is a wine that I’ve enjoyed for years, and wanted to see how it stack up next a pile of world class whites, and it performed admirably. I splash decanted into the Face to Face decanter again to help it open and to knock it around with the faces. The wine had so much body and intensity, loads of floral tones, great minerality, and plenty of je ne se quoi.


A. Christmann Königsbacher Idig Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2007 – I’ve had the honor of enjoying this wine on multiple occasions, and for me this was the highlight of the night. I knew this wine would need plenty of time, so like the Pichler I decanted it before the tasting and put it back in the fridge. I had at least an hour and a half of time in the Amadeo decanter, used to maximize the air contact, before we enjoyed it. Rich and intense with too many flavors to name but mango, earth, citrus, minerals all played a role. This wine illustrated why Riesling is one of the noble varieties, and frankly I think it was better than the Corton-Charlemagne.


Domaine Dublère Corton-Charlemagne Grande Cru 2005 – I hadn’t tasted this wine in years, so I didn’t know what to expect from it. I was hesitant to decant it too far in advance because I didn’t want it to fall apart in the decanter. I opened the wine at 6pm and decanted it in the Swan decanter at 7:45. It was good but not great at the time of tasting. It felt like it had slight premox but was still drinkable. Very round, with lots of lees and a bit of oak showing. Unfortunately, I realized I made a mistake with this wine, I should have decanted hours before the tasting. I revisited this wine, still in decanter at 9:30 after I cleaned up. It was amazing, and came out of its shell.  All the premox notes I thought I was experiencing were just the opening notes of a fascinating wine. I’m sorry that my guests didn’t get to experience this wine in a fully opened state. This wine, possibly more than any other wine I decanted this month proved why you should decant wines, particularly world class whites.