Wine finds: White blends can be real crowd-pleasers

2013-02-06T06:00:00Z Wine finds: White blends can be real crowd-pleasersBy GAIL APPLESON Special to the Post-Dispatch stlwinefinds@gmail.com stltoday.com

Although U.S. winemakers typically label wines by the type of grape, it seems there is an increasing number of domestic wines that are blends of two or more varietals. This is more the Old World approach in which wines are labeled by their location of origin rather than by the names of the grapes.

While red blends seem to dominate the St. Louis market, the number of white blends appears to be on the rise. Much of the selection of these white combinations tends to be very fruity, floral wines that are often off dry or a little sweet.

Because of the growing popularity of white blends, I thought it would be interesting to try two of these wines from the Ladue Crossing Schnucks at 8867 Ladue Road. I decided to visit the store on a Wednesday, the day when the chain was hosting its limited Winesday promotion in which shoppers received a 15 percent discount on six bottles of wines. The promotion is expected to continue through February.

For my tasting I chose the Kendall-Jackson 2010 Summation White Wine Blend from California and the 14 Hands 2010 Hot to Trot White Blend from Washington State. Through January, the Summation was priced at $11.49 and the 14 Hands, $8.49. On Feb. 3, the Summation rose to $14.99 and the 14 Hands, $10.99.

In order to taste the wines, I drafted the help of a friend who is a knowledgeable oenophile. Surprisingly, we had very different reactions. However, we did agree that neither of these wines is bone dry and felt they would both be good crowd pleasers. Either one would be a fine choice to offer wine drinkers starting to transition from slightly sweet wines to drier styles.

One other thing we agreed upon was that the Kendall-Jackson Summation was the more complex of the two wines. But after that, our views parted. I felt these wines were slightly sweet to the point where some might consider them to be off-dry. My friend didn’t think they were sweet enough to fall into that category.

My favorite of the two wines was the Summation because I found it to be the lighter, the most flavorful and the easiest to drink of the two. The Summation is an interesting blend of the following: 25 percent sauvignon blanc, 23 percent chardonnay, 19 percent viognier, 12 percent pinot blanc, 7 percent chenin blanc and small amounts of roussanne and other grapes. The result is a bright, fruity wine that combines the flavors of melon and stone fruits with the tangy citrus of pink grapefruit. It has a long mineral finish with touches of spice. I thought it would make a delightful wine for just sipping or a match for lighter fare. Because it’s quite flavorful, it would go well with spicy Asian cuisine.

Although I enjoyed the Summation on its own, my friend felt it was a fuller bodied wine that called for food. Instead, his favorite was the 14 Hands, which he thought was the lighter and easiest to drink of the two wines. According to the winery’s website, this is a blend of predominately chardonnay, pinot gris and viognier. Like the Summation, the 14 Hands white blend has stone fruit and melon flavors and good acidity. It would also pair well with spicy Asian cuisine and lighter fare.

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