When I started to think last month about the selections for this club, I happened to be drinking a bottle of dry Muscat from old vines, produced high on the slopes of Mount Luberon in the south of France. It was the exact type of wine I want to promote in this club: well crafted, unique and with a great story. Unfortunately the wine is only $25, which is a little too inexpensive to make the cut. However, this started me thinking about aromatic grape varieties, such as Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Torrontes and Viognier, just to name a few, and how little respect they get in the wine world. Yes, they are appreciated by a few consumers, but they are hardly mainstream. This gave me an idea for selections this quarter, demonstrating a progression of wines that will demonstrate what it means for a wine to be aromatic.
In a very simple explanation what makes a white wine variety aromatic are two families of compounds called terpenes and thiols. Terpenes, and specifically monoterpenes, give wines floral aromas that are often associated with grapes like Muscat, Torrontes and Gewürztraminer. Thiols are the grass-y, melon-y aromas that are found in Sauvignon Blanc. It is also thiols that give marijuana its distinctive smell. There are also other aromatic compounds that can be created during fermentation, by doing so at very low temperature or using selective yeast strains to enhance certain aromatic compounds. For the purpose of our features, I only selected varieties that are naturally aromatic, not wines where the aroma is enhanced or created.
These selections are listed in ascending order of aromatics. As you will read, Chardonnay is not considered an aromatic variety; Albarino is semi-aromatic and Muscat is highly aromatic. All of these selections are dry as well and infinitely friendly with food.Download Full Club Write-up