Six savoury white wines

"... and so what are savoury wines?"

available in Ontario from January 20, 2018

As I was tasting the white wines for this release, I began to notice that I was frequently using the term “savoury”, particularly for wines that I really enjoyed. After the third notable example, I decided to collect the savoury white wines into one presentation. But of course that raises the obvious question: what do I mean by savoury wines?

Here is a rough and simplistic answer that will at least carry us through to the wines in question. When we talk about savoury in the context of food, the usual contrast is with sweet: a savoury (salty, spicy) dish versus a sweet one. While I suppose that may hold with wine, at least to the extent that I can’t recall finding a sweet wine that I would say is savoury, I am mostly thinking about the world of dry wines. And in that context, I see the contrast as being between overtly fruity wines and savoury wines. The latter have characteristics that might be described as salty and mineral, possibly with notes of green and/or dried herbs, vegetal elements, and spices such as white and black pepper. The wines in question today are all relatively youthful, so bottle age, which definitely can add savoury layers, is not a factor. In addition, they are either unoaked or at least oaked unobtrusively, and oak can add both savoury and non-savoury elements, depending on its use and age.

Certainly wines that have lots of fruit can have significant savoury elements too, but it’s a matter of degree. Generally speaking, wines with over-ripe and raisined fruit tend to have little savoury character, as those elements are often ripened away, while wines with tart and less ripe fruit are more likely to have more savoury elements. And then the balance comes in: the less the fruit elements dominate, the more the savoury elements can emerge. So the following examples I’ve chosen have relatively little fruit character, and what fruit character they have tends to be on the less ripe end of the fruit spectrum.

So here are the wines, not surprisingly, all from the old world, and the first four are from unquestionably cool climate regions. The first three wines are French: the 2015 Louis Moreau Vaulignot 1er Cru Chablis, the 2016 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre, and the poster child for savoury, this lovely 2015 Domaine de la Fruitière Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie. The final three wines are from Portugal, Campania and the Peloponnese: an exhilerating wine from the Avesso grape, the 2015 Covela Edição Nacional Avesso Vinho Verde; a 2016 Greco from the fine Campanian producer Mastroberardino; and an intriguing wine from Roditis, the 2016 Tetramythos Roditis from Patras.

A final benefit: the last four wines are excellent values, two under $15 and the other two less than $18. Taste some savoury, and enjoy!



Vintages #525386 • $38.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 90/100
This is a nicely balanced Chablis 1er Cru from the warm 2015 vintage. Delicate aromas of apple and lemon fruit are edged by subtle notes of saltines and wet stones. While the wine is ripe and generous on the attack — at least for Chablis — bright acidity emerges and strong-arms the palate back into its mainstream Chablis character, extending the finish with a salty, wet-stone essence. A great introduction to Chablis — the ripe vintage softens the wine and makes it very appealing, while maintaining Chablis' focus and linearity.
Tasted Jan 5, 2018 • ARTISANAL WINE IMPORTS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #409292 • $23.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is an attractively priced Sancerre, that reflects the warmth of the 2016 vintage in the Loire. It's almost neutral on the nose, with simple lemon and green apple fruit, and little of the typical earthy-vegetal undertone you might expect. Acids are firm, and the palate is both ripe (with little herbaceous character) and has a subtle generosity that nicely balances the stony undertones. This is a very approachable and enjoyable Sancerre.
Tasted Jan 5, 2018 • BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #451112 • $14.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is a salty, savoury Muscadet. The nose is restrained, with a subtle biscuity leesiness backed by a drop of squeezed lemon. The wine is bone-dry, with a lightly creamy texture that balances the firm acids. It's savoury, stony, and mineral-tinged, with a subtle breadth that keeps it from austerity. A very fine value at this price ... buy it by the case!
Tasted Jan 5, 2018 • SIGNATURE WINES & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #524868 • $17.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 89/100
This is a real treat: a serious Vinho Verde made from the Avesso grape by the excellent producer Quinta de Covela. The nose is rather neutral, with little fruit save for hints of green apple and lemon, with an undertone of dried herbs. The wine is fully dry, with a lovely, mouth-filling weight balanced by firm acids, that give the palate a compelling savoury freshness, with just a hint of lemony fruit that carries into the drying, stony finish. So drinkable, and such a compelling wine.
Tasted Jan 9, 2018 • SAPIA WINES & SPIRITS (Agent) • Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review



Vintages #528869 • $16.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
This is an interesting introduction to Greco from the fine Campania producer Mastroberardino. The nose is constrained, with a suggestion of florality and hints of apple and lemon fruit. The wine is fully dry, with firm acidity and — this is the telling feature — a surprising weight and denseness despite the very moderate alcohol. The fruit on the palate stays in the background, with understated peach and white flowers, before a lemony acidity comes forward, drying and lingering with a salty undertone. Really intriguing and satisfying.
Tasted Jan 5, 2018 • DU CHASSE WINES & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


TETRAMYTHOS RODITIS 2016, PDO Patras, Peloponnese

Vintages #261610 • $13.95 • 750ml. • WD Score 88/100
Roditis, one of the most widely grown grapes in Greece, is pink-skinned, but is used to make white wine. It is sometimes added to the blends for retsina, but is usually bottled as a single varietal wine. This is a fine example: pale straw in colour, with a rather neutral nose with a leesy undercurrent that backs hints of white flowers and apple and lemon fruit. The wine is fully dry, with modest alcohol, and a lighter weight. The lively, savoury palate is tinged by the lemon-apple fruit, that trails into the firm, salty finish. Savoury, quaffable, and a great value!
Tasted Jan 5, 2018 • BRAND NEW DAY WINES & SPIRITS (Agent)Find it at your nearest LCBOShare Review


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