Charlie Gaeta, Wine Director for Branch Line, shares the winter whites we should be drinking this season.
While many of us often reach for a bottle of red during this time of year, Branch Line’s Charlie Gaeta suggests going for a high-tannin, high-acid glass of white wine, which are particularly compatible for food pairing, as the acidity helps cut rich, wintertime fare. With a focus on wines from the Northern Rhone region, read on to find out which whites Charlie suggests we should be sip on.
2016 Yves Cuilleron, Roussanne, Vin de Pays Rhodaniennes, Northern Rhone
“The Northern Rhone Valley is one of my favorite places to drink wine from. I can’t get enough of the classic syrahs from Hermitage, St-Joseph, Cornas, etc. However, the white wines of the region go totally underrated and I feel like the winter is the perfect season to give them their much-deserved limelight. There are 3 white varieties: Viognier, Marsanne & Roussanne. The former is usually bottled as a single varietal while the latter two are often blended. However, Yves Cuilleron—an unstoppable force and a blue chip of the region—bottles each varietal separately amidst numerous cuvees. For me, it was always challenging to really nail down the typicity of Roussanne...until I got to meet Yves himself. I asked him, “What IS Roussanne, to you?” “Simple...peaches and cream.” Since then, I can’t get those aromas and flavors out of my head when I drink this wine. Add to it the weight, somewhat elevated alcohol (re: warming effect!) and phenolic bitterness (that sounds really geeky, but these Northern Rhone whites have some tannin, which increases their structure and winter drinkability). Best of all, this bottle is $39 on our list right now!”
2015 Romaneaux-Destezet, Vin de Pays Ardèche, Northern Rhône (viognier/roussanne)
“Keeping with the theme of the Northern Rhone and VALUE-driven, this is another bottle under $50 at Branch Line. However, whereas Yves Cuilleron represents a classic approach to the region, Herve Souhart has been pushing the envelope since the early 1990’s near the appellation of St -Joseph. The blend of Viognier and Roussanne here sees some skin contact so it’s richer in color and texture and even a little bit funky. There’s not a ton of orange wine from this region and it’s really cool to see this bottle breaking some of the rules. While hard to define, it certainly falls in the camp of “natural” wine. Pair it with Green Circle Rotisserie Chicken or Wood Grilled Pork Blade Steak on a cold night at Branch Line and life is good.”
“Yves Canarelli is making some of the best wines on the island of Corsica right now. He is a pioneer of indigenous varieties, experimentation, and vinifying slick, textured wines. The 2015 vintage is really ripe, especially in the Mediterranean, so this style of Vermentinu—the major white variety of the island—is perfect for a richer, winter option. Crazy big pear fruit meets Mediterranean saltiness and granitic minerality. Any rich fish dish with butter is a home run. Often island wines are viewed as summer pulls from the cellar, but this bottle from this vintage asks for some cold New England weather and it’s appropriate fare.”