The 40 Millennials in Bus 305W tasted through 6 white wines recently in a blind tasting format. The purpose was to attempt to identify the classic varietals by color, nose, and palate structure. A classic varietal is defined as one which must “have manifested QUALITY over a long period of time, AND have done so in more than one place in the world.” Therefore according to experts such as Jancis Robinson and Karen McNeil, there are 5 classic white grapes: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, chenin blanc, and semillon. We also added a sixth grape which is quite popular with Millennials – gewürztraminer.
The chardonnay was easy to identify with it buttery apple and vanilla oak notes, and the sauvignon blanc was fairly straightforward because it exhibited some of the classic grass and grapefruit notes, but was missing the tell-tale “cat pee/gooseberry notes” that are often present. The Semillon was quite challenging because it had a rather unusual nose of ripe fig and guava – and for most students, it was their first time to try it. The riesling and chenin blanc were easy to mix-up because they both had lovely floral and peach notes, but the chenin had a touch of lanolin which distinguished it from the more minerally riesling.
The simplest grape varietal to recognize however, was the gewürztraminer that jumped out of the glass with a nose of roses, honeysuckle and apricot. It also turned out to be the favorite with 25 people voting for it as their number one wine star of the evening. The reasons included not only the beautifully perfumed nose, but the residual sugar of around 3.5 – which set it apart from the other drier wines. Food suggestions includes spicy Asian, chicken with cream sauce, Thanksgiving dinner, or as a great picnic wine.
***** Fetzer Vineyards Gewürztraminer 2007 ($7)
With a perfumed nose of roses, honeysuckle and apricots, the wine is just as pleasant to smell as it is to drink. On the palate, sweet notes of honey mingle with apricot and glide across the tongue with a pleasing acid finish. Residual sugar of around 3.5% makes this a semi-sweet, rather than a dry wine. Great by itself as dessert or with spicy Asian cuisine. See www.fetzer.com. We purchased the wine at Trader Jo’s.