John Paul Kaminga
Updated: Feb 25, 2022
White wine is often not taken as seriously as red wine. This is a mistake.
Way under the radar, the Bianchello del Metauro DOC of Italy's Marche region is nonetheless worth your attention, especially when it comes to the organic wine of Crespaia. Established in 2011, Crespaia has grown to 10 contiguous hectares of certified organic vines around an old villa and church close to the Adriatic Sea. They grow some Sangiovese, but Crespaia is focused on the Bianchello cultivar, a grape sometimes, though without much proof, conflated with the ubiquitous Trebbiano Toscano. The morphology of these two vines are quite different, while a fine Bianchello del Metauro shows far more interesting floral and fruity character than one would expect from Trebbiano Toscano. Crespaia's fabulous 2019 Bianchello struts its stuff with delicate aromas of white flowers, citrus and tropical fruits, before turning fresh, mineral and saline on the palate. This stuff rules and you might consider buying it by the case.
Crespaia Bianchello del Metauro 2019 - $13
Didn't we tell you to expect more on Fratelli Alessandria? We really can't get enough of their wine (seriously, some vintages of their Barolo disappear very quickly) and we always try to keep a few things in stock. Right now we have Pelaverga, Nebbiolo, and a few 2015 Barolos, as well as their newly arrived 2019 Favorita. Also known as Vermentino, Pigato and Rolle, in the Langhe the chosen name for this cultivar is Favorita. Fratelli Alessandria has all of their Favorita planted in Verduno, the northernmost commune of Barolo, and it is one of the most memorable Italian white wines we taste each year. The 2019 is as good as ever, featuring notes of ripe citrus, fresh peaches and apricots, and wafting herbal and floral notes. Silky and soft upfront, finishing with crisp fruit and refreshing minerality, it really does the trick on a hot summer day. Considering where it comes from and who makes it, this Favorita is also unbelievably inexpensive.
Fratelli Alessandria Langhe Favorita 2019 - $18
This winery already has many fans at Craft and Cru, but for those of you that don't know, any bottle from Domaine Celine et Frederic Gueguen is more than worth the asking. Known for gorgeous un-oaked Chablis, Celine and Fred also make a few wines from outside this storied appellation. Their Bourgogne Cotes Salines comes from a plot of vines on the border of the Chablis AOC, but just a little too low on the slope, in an area that would have historically been too cool to be considered for the more famous name. Recent summers have been kind to cooler vineyards, and the Gueguen family's Cotes Salines is always plenty ripe. The 2019 is full of ripe citrus notes, with hints of seabreeze, herbs and flowers, featuring plenty of classic mineral and saline character on the palate; in other words, it really acts like Chablis.
Gueguen Bourgogne Cotes Salines 2019 - $16
If you're a fan of fine Sancerre, you should know the wines of Gerard Boulay. His entry-level Sancerre comes from young vines in Chavignol, the heart of the Sancerre AOC, and it is one of our favorite expressions of Sauvignon Blanc. It is never pungently vegetal, nor is it ever sweet and tropical, it is always a model of grace and refinement, emphasizing perfect fruit and cleansing minerality. In a good vintage, this wine will age as few Sauvignon are able, maintaining fresh fruit while developing myraid earthy and herbal nuances. The 2019 vintage is good, nay very good, probably the best since 2016 or 2010. Today, Boulay's Sancerre is primary, with endless citrus flavors backed by subtle notes of stone fruits, herbs, flowers and minerals. On the finish the minerality really comes alive, jousting with pure fresh citrus, and edging out the victory. There are many wines that provide lessons in minerality, but none illustrate the concept better than Boulay's Sancerre Chavignol. Drink it with oysters today, or cellar it for 5 to 10 years, at which point it might be the right choice for something like grilled lobster.
Gerard Boulay Sancerre 'Chavignol' 2019 - $35