Monday, November 21, 2016

White wine fever at Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

“White Line Fever” is one of my favourite Motorhead songs, but I was overcome with white wine fever at Toronto’s Metro Toronto Convention Centre over the weekend. After focusing on beers on Friday, trying a variety of white wines was at the top of my agenda on Saturday and Sunday at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo.

There were a few booths specializing in New Zealand wines, and a high percentage of them were Sauvignon Blancs. The bright and fruity yet dry style is made in different parts of New Zealand’s Marlborough wine-growing region, some areas of which produce a more grassy flavour. I’m more of a fruit-forward guy and preferred those.

My favourites were Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and Villa Maria Private Bin Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. I’d rank Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc, Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Stoneleigh Latitude Sauvignon Blanc, Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the Maori-made Te Pa slightly behind them but still worthy of recommendation.

Joiy, which just arrived from New Zealand in boxes containing four 250-millilitre bottles, was a pleasant surprise: a sparkling and aromatic wine made with no added sugar, concentrates or flavours that would work well for the holiday season.

I was also very fond of the extra dry White Cliff Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region on the north island.

I spent time at a few California booths and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, what impressed me most was the Fetzer Gewurztraminer from Monterrey. The style is fairly uncommon for California and this one was sweeter than what I generally prefer in a wine, but its bold floral aroma, rich full-bodied fruit flavour (with a hint of pineapple) and oily finish won me over.

The organic Fonterra Chardonnay from further north toward the Oregon border had pleasant green apple, pear and citrus flavours and tied for second on my list of favourite California wines from the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo along with the gentler and earthier Chloe Chardonnay.

I enjoyed Italy’s Ruffino Prosecco, an extra dry and very bubbly sparkling wine with peach and apple aroma and flavour profiles.

Calmel & Joseph Villa Blanche Chardonnay 2015 was the only French wine I had, and the extra dry medium-bodied wine with apple, peach, melon and citrus elements didn’t disappoint.

I didn’t get around to trying as many Rieslings as I normally would at this year’s Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, and only one from where the style is best known: Germany. The light and easy Funf Riesling lived up to its fun name with its peach and apricot bouquet, citrus flavour and clean finish.

Closer to home, I became a fan of the bold, refreshing and off-dry Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling from Beamsville, Ont. The Rosewood Legacy apple and honey mead was interesting, but a bit too sweet for me.

Port Dover, Ont. is the home of two cheekily named brands, Frisky Beaver and Smoke & Gamble. Frisky Beaver Sparkling was off dry but wit some sweetness and would be my first choice over Frisky Beaver Frisky White Riesling, Smoke & Gamble Chardonnay and the only rose I tried over the weekend, Frisky Beaver Blushing Beaver.

The other Ontario wine I sampled was Fielding Estate Winery’s Long Weekend Pinot Grigio Chardonnay, an enjoyable casual wine with a robustly fruity aroma and flavour.

Perhaps the least favourite wines I sampled were from Greece: Santorini Assyrtiko; and a Sauvignon Blanc called 2014 Thalia White.

And finally, thank you to the lovely couple from Cambridge, Ont. who gave me three sampling tickets as they celebrated their anniversary on Saturday. And also to my New Zealand wine-drinking buddies Natasha and Louise, who gave me four tickets but then didn’t show up at The Cadillac Lounge afterward like they said they would.

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