The Lageder pinot bianco is well worth the extra couple of dollars that it costs
What better question for the wine of the week during the blog’s 11th annual Birthday Week: How does one know when spending more than $10 on a wine in this age of crappy $15 wine isn’t a waste of money? When the wine is something like the Lageder pinot bianco.
So know the producer. The Lageder pinot bianco ( $13, purchased, 13%) comes from one of the best small wineries in Italy – a 200-year-old family business tucked away on Italy’s northern border between Switzerland and Austria. I’ve written about the Lageder wines many times. All have been worth spending the extra three for four dollars for, including and especially the pinot grigio.
The pinot bianco is no exception. Look for bright, fresh lime and green apple fruit with an almost floral aroma. In this, the wine may be more like an Oregon pinot blanc, since white wine fruit flavors tend to be subdued in Italian wine. The finish is clean and long, not quite stony but still satisfying. It’s an approachable and enjoyable wine, either on its own or with roast chicken or grilled fish. And it would be terrific for Thanksgiving – a lighter style to go with all that food.
Welcome to the Wine Curmudgeon’s 10th annual Mother’s Day wine post, in which the point has always been about finding something to make Mom happy. It’s funny how often that doesn’t happen in wine, isn’t it?
As always, the most important piece of advice to make that possible? Buy Mom a Mother’s Day wine gift that she will like, and not something that you think Mom should like because you know more about wine than she does. In other words, if Mom likes sweet white, then buy her the best sweet white you can find, and don’t worry about whether it’s a proper wine for her to drink.
These Mother’s Day wine suggestions should get you started doing just that – and all are highly recommended:
• Domaine Robert Sérol Turbullent NV ($18, sample, 8.5%): This rose sparkling wine, made with the gamay grape from a less well known part of the Loire in France, is one of those wines that most of us are afraid to try because it’s so different. So take my word for it: Terrific Mother’s Day bubbly, with raspberry fruit, tight bubbles, and surprisingly dry given the lack of alcohol.
• Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Petit Chablis ($20, purchased, 12.5%): Delicious and almost affordable white Burgundy (chardonnay from the Chablis area in the Burgundy region of France) that is varietally correct – a rich mouth feel, wonderful lemon fruit, hints of white spice, and an almost nutty flavor mixed in with all the rest. A good introduction to Chablis for someone who drinks mostly California chardonnay.
• Bieler Père et Fils Sabine Rose 2015 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Given how many roses – even from the Old World – are amping up the fruit this vintage because some focus group said they should, the Bieler remains what a great Provencal rose should be: Tart raspberry fruit, crisp and refreshing, and always enjoyable. There is even a hint of what the French call garrigue – an almost herbal aroma from the flowers and herbs growing near the vineyards.
• Alois Lageder Schiava 2014 ($15, purchased, 12%): A fascinating wine from one of my favorite Itlalian producers made with the odd schiava grape. It produces a light, spicy, fruity (berry?) red wine with few tannins. Somewhere between gamay and pinot noir, but truly its own wine and one that should please both red and white drinkers.
One of the great joys of Italian wine is also why Italian wine is so frustrating. There are too many wines and too many regions and too much to understand, but the thrill of finding a wine completely by accident makes up for all of the aggravation.
That ?s what happened with the Lageder ($10, purchased). It ?s an Italian white wine made with a German grape, pinot blanc, that is more popular in France than it is in Germany ? but in Alsace, a region of France that used to be part of Germany. And if that wasn ?t complicated enough, this wine is made by a fifth-generation Italian producer that comes the country ?s far northeast, which is almost in Austria (as you can tell by Lageder, which sounds more German than Italian).
With a story like that, how could I not buy the wine? Best yet, the Lageder rewarded me for the decision. It didn ?t taste like I expected it to ? none of that Italian minerality or bracing acidity. It was a more subtle wine, fresh and clean but with a bit of richness to go with some apple fruit. In this, it was more Alsatian than Italian, though I paired it with my annual spaghetti carbonara dinner and it was exactly what the spaghetti needed.