Warming up to a delicious Loire Valley white

When I opened a bottle from France’s Loire Valley this past weekend, Hervé Villemade’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, I was reminded of the importance of temperature in enjoying the full spectrum of a wine’s flavors – and that wines without prestigious appellations on their labels can often be delicious values.

What turned out to be a lovely, subtly complex wine appeared at first one-dimensional and enclosed. But within a few minutes, the wine seemed to come alive, releasing wonderful and complex aromas and tastes and reinforcing my confidence that a wine with the broader “Val de Loire” classification could indeed be memorable.

What had happened, simply, was that the wine had warmed up a few degrees or so,  literally taking the chill out of the bottle and allowing the wine to express itself. If you have left a white wine in the fridge for more than an hour so or ordered one at ...

Why you need to try this Brazilian wine before (or after) the Olympics

Brazil produces a ton of wine, most of it in the temperate south with its four seasons. The fact that Brazil makes wine at all is something that most people in this country probably don’t realize, given how Chile and Argentina, with their marketing muscle, dominate South American imports and sales. I can’t recall being queried about my interest in wines from Brazil -- until this summer with the obvious Olympics tie-in.

You’re not going to find many (or any) bottles from Brazil in your local wine store or in restaurants, unless, of course, they’re serving Brazilian food. I can see that changing, however, if more of them knew about wines like Lidio Carraro’s 2014 “Agnus” Tannat.

Carraro, which, like many Brazilian wineries was founded by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, notes that tannat is Brazil’s “emblematic” red grape, as it is in neighboring Uruguay. The variety was ...

Beating the heat with these refreshing whites from France’s little-known Quincy

It’s mid-August, and with the heat and humidity truly stifling here in New York, I have no use for wines that aren’t fresh and light (while still interesting, of course). Among whites, sauvignon blancs immediately come to mind. For the “interesting” component, my mind -- and palate -- naturally veer toward France’s Loire Valley.

The Loire is sauvignon blanc country, unparalleled in its quality and range of perspectives on the grape, from the racy and relatively uncomplicated wines of the large Touraine appellation, to the complex and celebrated offerings from Sancerre and its neighbor Pouilly Fumé.

Somewhere in between are the wines of Quincy, a storybook village in the upper Loire that lives in the shadow of its
more famous neighbors like Sancerre. I remember thinking the first time I was there that lunch didn’t get much better than a hunk of the local chèvre, a baguette and a bottle ...

From Atlantic Spain, a fresh white wine shows off its lovely fruit

As I write this on a warm, early autumn day, I am reminded that many fruits on the farm stands are at their peak: the last of the peaches are being scooped up as the apples and pears take their place; there may still be some berries around.

What made me think of this was a gorgeous white wine I am tasting from the Rias Baixas region of Galicia in northwest Spain -- the 2014 Abadia de San Campio Albarino from Bodegas Terras Gauda.

I have tasted this wine many times before. Never has it been this delicious, suggesting that 2014 must have been one heck of a vintage in Rias Baixas. Albarino is the region's most important grape and is in its glory in this $19 bottling, bursting with ripe tropical fruit and rich lemon tastes, fresh and lively with great balance between fruit and acidity.

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