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Randall Murray: Weird white wines to taste
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Chateau Rollan de By 2011
The wine: Dry, full-bodied red table wine.
The grapes: 70 percent merlot, 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc, 10 percent petit verdot.
The source: Bordeaux, France
The verdict: This is a red Bordeaux that tells you just what red Bordeaux is all about. But I wish the French would find some other defining term for wines like this. They insist on calling it a Cru Bourgeois, which in truth is a pretty good rating, despite our view of the word “bourgeois.” Want to see what’s behind all the fuss over red Bordeaux, otherwise known as “claret?” That is, without paying Premier Cru prices? Look for this sophisticated dinner wine. It is ready to drink now and is a perfect partner for a red meat entree. I loved the complex combination of flavors, including a lick of licorice in the finish. In the Bordeaux style, this wine does not allow its fruit to shout. It’s restrained and refined. It has deep roots in the Medoc appellation, which produces some of Bordeaux’s finest wines.
The price: About $27

I like weird white wines such as picpoul, gewurztraminer, viognier, petit manseng and albarino.

Albarino is a crisp, dry white from the Galician coast of northwestern Spain. It is so linked with its coastal heritage, it is said you can almost taste the sea in the wine.

That may be pushing it, but albarino really is one of the world’s great seafood wines.

The grape did not originate in Spain. The name translates to something similar to “the white wine from the Rhine.” Some experts believe it came from the Johannisberg Riesling grape. Another theory is it is related to the aforementioned petit manseng, which thrives in southwestern France.

Whatever its roots, this rich grape produces some fine wines. And today we’re going to learn about four truly nice offerings from a variety of Spanish producers I have sampled recently.

I have been assured all of these wines are distributed in Georgia. But, as always, I will warn some may be harder to find than others.

All of these albarinos are sourced from the Rias Baixas Denominacion de Origen, or place of origin. All range from 12 percent to 13 percent alcohol.


This is the most common label you will find. It’s in wine shops and in supermarkets.

It is named for a 13th century Galician troubadour. If you don’t fancy running around to find the others, this one will do you quite well.

Of all these wines, the Codax has the roundest sensation in the mouth. It’s dry and crisp, but just a tad softer than the others. I picked up a hint of pear.

It costs about $16.


Of this grouping, I found the Fefinanes to be the most robust, with a lemony aftertaste that is right on the verge of being too much. That citrusy aspect lends a silkiness to the wine.

I served this crisp beauty with a plate full of shrimp sauteed lightly in ginger butter. It was perfect.

It is about $18.


This one gets a lot of hands-on attention. All of the fruit for this wine is hand harvested in small boxes; no mechanical harvesters and dump trucks for these folks.

The wine reflects that gentle approach. Malolactic fermentation, a process that changes the structure of the wine’s acid and softens the wine, is not done with this one. Thus, it stays crisp and linear.

It got a 90-point rating from Wine Enthusiast.

Its price is about $18.


Here’s another 90-point Wine Enthusiast wine.

While all these wines are quite similar, I noticed something different with this one. All the others doled out taste sensations of lemons, in varying degrees. But I swear I tasted just a hint of lime from Paco & Lola.

This wine, too, gets extra attention. And the winery folks suggest serving this with poultry as well as seafood.

It’s about $23.


Readers know I am a fan of boxed wines, or most of them. I’ve just found a new line that’s generally available in supermarkets and wine shops.

The line is called Vin Vault and it comes in two flavors: cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

The cabernet is good, well-structured with just a hint of tannins amid lots of dark fruit flavors.

But the chardonnay is one of the best boxed Chards I’ve tasted. It’s crisp, with a ripe apple crunch to it and just enough acidity to give the wine backbone.

Vin Vaults are 3-liter boxes, which is the equivalent to four standard-sized bottles. Because the inner food-grade plastic bag is air-tight, the wine will stay fresh for four to six weeks after you first tap it.

The price is about $20.


Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on