Monday, May 3, 2010
"A" is for Acidity, the Crisp Kind
I often recommend chilled white wines with high acidity for the summertime. Crisp, dry white wines with good acidity partner well with summer foods, such as vinaigrettes for salad, grilled chicken and seafood, greasy finger foods and fresh vegetables from the garden.
When recommending crisp, dry white wines, I often suggest Sauvignon Blanc and dry Riesling. There are other white wines produced in wine regions around the world that fall into this category.
Pinot Bianco is an Italian grape variety grown in the northeast part of the country, in the provinces of Alto-Adige, Veneto and Friuli. Wines from this grape are medium-bodied with a light fruitiness and crisp acidity. They are sometimes fermented and/or aged in oak. When oak is employed these varieties fall into a different wine style category called big, fat whites. So, make sure that your pinot bianco has not seen any oak if you’re looking for a crisp, dry white.
Some Chardonnay is produced in this crisp, dry white wine style, as well. Chablis is the most northerly region of Burgundy. The area’s wines that receive the Chablis AOC must be made from the chardonnay grape. The AOC stands for the Code de Legislation des Appellation d’Origine Controlee. The AOC has two main objectives. The first is to geographically define wine-producing areas so that the origin of a wine may be clearly and accurately stated. The second objective is to establish production standards for each defined wine area, thus guaranteeing the origin and quality of a wine. The AOC is complemented by other laws, such as Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure, Vin de Pays and Vin de Table. Generally speaking, an AOC wine is guaranteed to be of high quality, and to be produced in a way that preserves local traditions and emphasizes the uniqueness of the region or terroir. (Terroir is the combination of the geography, climate and soil of a particular wine region.)
Back to the crisp, dry white wine style. There are four classifications of Chablis AOC, each producing chardonnay with different character traits. All, however, falls into this crisp, white wine style. The classifications are: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. This region also produces crisp, white wines from the Sauvignon Blanc and Aligote grapes.
In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is also grown and made into a crisp white with good acidity. Bairrada is a wine region in Portugal that produces white wines in this style, as well, with crispness and lemony character.
Other white wines that celebrate this style category are Bacchus and Baden from Germany, and a Swiss grape variety called Chasselas. Frascati, Pinot Grigio and Orvieto are three more crisp, dry whites from Italy. It’s not surprising that many dry, crisp whites come from Italy. Wines produced in this style are considered food friendly as the high acidity cleans the palate. The Italians are renowned for drinking wine with almost every meal. So, it’s not surprising that they would produce crisp, dry whites that clean the palate between bites.