A Sense of Style

In the future people will think less and less of a certain wine’s grape varietal mix, or lack of, and more and more about the wine’s specific STYLE! First off, people should realize the difference between wine “style” and wine “type”.

In terms of the different types of wine in the world today, we see still/table wines, sparkling wines and fortified wines (some even add a fourth type: “aromatized” wines, i.e. Vermouth). Wine style is very different than, and not to be confused with, wine type. There are different styles of wine within each different wine type. For those who haven’t heard my spiel in the past, here goes…..the future of the NLC, quite similar to other Liquor Control boards throughout the world, will soon start to sway away from focusing primarily on grape varieties, and instead go the wine style route.

What Does this Mean?
In the future, when you enter an NLC corporate store, you will see signage letting you know the 3-4 different styles of white wines that the NLC has to offer, as well as the 3-4 different styles of red. Each of these predetermined styles will have a symbol associated with it – a symbol that both customers, and NLC staff alike, can use to hunt out similarly styled wines throughout the store! Do not fear this folks – it is a welcome, and long time coming, initiative.

A Chardonnay is a Chardonnay, Right?? Wrong!!
As an example, anyone who has ever tried an oak-aged Chardonnay verses the mineral laced, stainless steel versions from say the Chablis region in Northern Burgundy, will attest that even though these two wines are made from the exact same grape variety, they are not even in the same ball park when it comes to their styles. While an oaky Chardonnay might fit into the “full-bodied, richly-flavoured” category (if that is in fact what the NLC decides to go with), those wines made from this grape variety that never see the inside of an oak barrel would more than likely land in another style category, maybe the “crisp, dry, light-bodied” group. Today I will focus on this style of white wine – the CRISP, DRY, LIGHT-BODIED vinos, saving some of the potential others styles for another piece.

Pale, Young and Light Bodied
Those of you who enjoy Italian Pinot Grigio are fans of this style! While being a preeminently European style, we are starting to see many of the New World wine producing regions perfect wines of this nature. One book I read described this style of white wine as being, “pale, young, light-bodied wines with delicate flavours, no oak influence, and a finish that is crisply refreshing”. As I alluded to above, the word dry should also be used in the definition of this style, as similar wines done in a sweeter style would usually fall into another style category (i.e. many young German Rieslings).

Other wines on the shelves of the NLC which would more than likely get the same style symbol as Italian Pinot Grigio (or most any Italian white for that matter – I once had an instructor who said if it’s white, and it tastes like lemon water then it’s Italian! ) would be the aforementioned Chablis, most Sancerre or Pouilly Fume from the Loire Valley (both 100% Sauvignon Blanc), as well as many of the whites from the Iberian Peninsula. I mention this collection of countries – Portugal and Spain – because some of my personal favourite wines done in this style hail from this area of the world. Even better, the NLC has started to bring in some of these country’s unique and indigenous varietals.

While we have had excellent Albarinos for sale here in Newfoundland and Labrador for quite some time (i.e. Sku 6937 Condes de Albarei - $22.49), there has been a recent influx of wines in the province made from the Spanish grape variety called: Verdejo. A quick “advanced search” scan of the NLC website reveals no less than seven white wines for sale in this province that are fashioned from this variety. If you think that you are a fan of this style of wine that we’re talking about then you will most definitely like a Verdejo – think fresh and floral, sharp and clean, with pronounced notes of lemon and lime. Some of the newer Verdejos at the NLC include:

Sku 13546 Marques de Riscal Limousin - $21.49 *The people of this province have had a love affair with one of this winery’s red wines for decades (Sku 2123 – Tempranillo). Now we have two whites by them, this one, as well as a slightly cheaper Verdejo (Sku 10424 - $15.79), both being excellent examples of the crisp, dry, light-bodied style of wine that we are focusing on in this piece. The difference in price between these two Verdejos by Marques de Riscal has to do with the use of oak barrels for aging in the more expensive of the two, while the other would have used an inert vessel, more than likely stainless steel. The use of oak barrels in the aging of this wine is evident in some of the wine’s descriptors… vanilla, nutty, with a touch of wood. I enjoyed the distinct citric notes which are usually par for the course with white wines done in this style!

Sku 13547 El Albar Lurton Verdejo - $16.48 *This wine hails from the Rueda appellation in the region of Castilla Y Leon in central Spain, and is a blend of 85% Verdejo with 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Viura (aka Macabeo). A little less on the citric side than some of the others, this wine has a nice tropical fruit profile featuring peach and mango, as well as floral notes. Add some goat’s milk cheese to a salad and see how wonderful it goes with this wine.

Sku 13554 Flor De Vetus Verdejo Rueda - $18.49 *Also hailing from Rueda, this crisp, light-bodied wine is all about green apples, lemon and grapefruit. The wine’s acidity makes it a perfect aperitif, although a lemon chicken dish would just sing if paired with this Spanish gem. While ideally a wine for summer sipping, this wine would make a suitable replacement for any dish requiring a Sauvignon Blanc, or similarly styled wine.

Mouth-Watering Delicious
This style of wine is most often found in the cooler climate growing areas of the wine world. While lightweight, pale and sharp (high in acid) wines started off as being primarily a European style, it is now loved throughout the world as these wines make ideal aperitifs, and also go with a wide array of different foods. I often teach a concept of food and pairing known as the “lemon wedge rule”. It is this style of wine that makes this rule possible. The rule implies that any dish which you would squeeze a lemon over to enhance (i.e. pan fried cod), will be that much better when served alongside one of these wines.

White wines created in this style are made for our local cuisine – think seafood and shellfish. They also do well when paired with light and creamy pasta dishes, salads and antipasti. Personally, I would open one of these wines while I was cooking and sip on it as the day progressed – the light-bodied, high-acid nature of these wines will make your mouth water, and stomach juices flow, thereby stimulating hunger and getting you ready for the meal to follow.

Most of the wines that fall into this category are meant to be drunk in their youth. This is when they are at their freshest, and have all the desirable aromas and flavours that the winemaker would have wanted you to experience. Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have. I can be reached at andrew.facey@nlliquor.com. I hope that you have enjoyed this article. Stay tuned for more to come in the future!

Andrew Facey
Senior Product Knowledge Consultant