White Wine of the Week | White Wine Reviews

Whites and bubblies you can grab in the Twin Cities for under $15. Expect a new wine to be revealed each Thursday(ish).

New Age

Cost: Average price $9.99

Where buy now: Available readily – $9

Grapes: 90% Torrontes, 10% Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Argentina

Vintage: {tip N/V or Non Vintage Wines are wines that don’t meet the quality standards of the winery. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad wine (usually the worst of it just gets distilled into pure alcohol), just that it doesn’t have the characteristics normally associated with the winery.}N/V{/tip}

New Age

Only good can come from a visit when you ask the store manager, “When does your wine sale end?” and the response is, “Oh, this isn’t our Spring Wine Sale, this is normal”. What?!? Sometimes you forget about the places in your own backyard. Such was the case with Sorella Wines & Spirits http://www.sorellawines.com/Sorella . I stopped in last Friday due to a Tweet that mentioned a good looking line up for tasting and a couple specials. I walked out with four bottles and a little more understanding about the place.

Chris, the general manager, is a swell dude who told me Sorella (Italian for sister) is the name, as his mom and two aunts are the owners. These are the same folks who owned Liquor Depot [RIP], but this place is a bit more diverse than the old keg & case stop before the Twins game.

At any given time, Chris claims they have 400+ bottles on sale. He also cryptically said there is no set date for their Spring Wine Sale (just to keep us on our seats? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see). Prior to talking with Chris, I scoped out the prices and their wines were right on. So “right”, that I thought this _was_ the wine sale! If you live or work in or around the downtown Mpls area, this is a great go-to. Right off 35W, there’s free parking behind the store, located underneath yet another mildly successful condo development.

If you’re following me at all on Twitter of Facebook(and if you’re not, you’re sorely missing out on other great wines on special plus you get to know more about me and my drink-capades!), you’d know that I’m all about the Tincho right now, especially since we’ve been catapulted into this warmer than usual weather.


What is a Tincho? http://www.valentinbianchi.com/Valentinbianchi http://www.valentinbianchi.com Warning: when you go to this website, some kind of cross between Latin jazz [Argentinian?] and easy-listening music will play if your sound is on. But I digress.

In the early nineteen hundreds, an Italian man immigrated to Argentina. His name was Valentin Eduardo Bianchi (sounds dreamy already, doesn’t he?), and he created the Bodegas Valentin Bianchi winery. Flash forward decades later: his grandson enters the world, and was nicknamed “Tincho” which means “young Valentin”. Valentin Jr., poured the New Age wine over ice, added a little lime and voila – the drink is now called a “Tincho”. Tincho is hyped as Argentina’s number one drink of choice, and I can definitely see why. It is sparkly, citrusy and thirst-quenchingly delicious, much like a margarita but without all that icky sweetness. New Age has a pale golden-greenish tint to it. It’s lightly acidic, fruity and ever so slightly effervescent.

I tried New Age for the first time when I was out for Sushi. Our waitress forgot to bring ice and lime over and I couldn’t wait to take a sip. Um, yeah, no- not so great on it’s own (I’m not crazy about sweet wines). That said, if you like Vinho Verde or Riesling, you may like this on it’s own. Or, do as I and millions of Argentinans do and pour this baby over ice with lime (extra lime for me, please) and the bubbles, lime and ice are all doing the Tango in your mouth.

What’s great is this wine is only between 9-10% alcohol, much lower than other wines, so you can have one of these little Tinchos any time, throughout the day (shhh, co-workers may actually be reading this). You can find New Age at several stores; I’m highlighting it at Sorella’s because it’s going for about $8.

Stop in, check out their “non-sale, sale” and wait to see what more goodies go on sale during their actual Spring Wine Sale! PS – you won’t find a clusterf*ck of carts in aisles at this store!

Cusumano Insolia

Cost: Average price $13.99

Where buy now: Surdyk’s- $8.49

Grapes:100% Insolia

Region: Sicilia (Sicily)

Vintage: 2010

Cusumano Insolia

This week, my quest was to find a wine that paired well with some classic St. Patty’s corned beef and cabbage [well, Frank’s Bavarian Sauerkraut]. Lunds & Byerly’s has Kobe corned beef on sale, so I grabbed me a juicy one. I threw it in the slow-cooker and away I went to work.

Flash forward in the evening, and I still needed a wine! I picked up a pair of reds: a Gamay and Pinot Noir. I was on the hunt for the perfect red wine to pair. When I got home, I was starving and so I started nibbling on the beef. “This is stupid”, I thought, “just fix a plate, sample the wines, and dig in, already”. I started by sipping on the Gamay, and it was, well, a’ight. [Full disclosure: I was truly pining for a boilermaker of Bushmill’s dropped in a creamy Murphy’s or Guinness. I love beer like the next guy, but that’s too easy. Not to mention, isn’t this supposed to be a wine blog?]. I kept eating and thought, “Well shit, I need a white wine to review this week, anyhow” so I ran to my basement and picked up a go-to white, Cusumano’s Insolia. What the eff was I doing? A Sicilian white wine with Irish fare?

Whatever. I’ve been drinking this wine for years. I honestly don’t know what prompted me to buy it in the first place; I can only imagine it was on sale. I opened it up while fabricating an account of how I enjoyed this wine on an unseasonably beautiful March day frolicking outside with the dog while she chewed on the cork.

I loaded my fork with a mound of beef and sauerkraut. Thank GOD I was alone because it couldn’t have been pretty. I struggled with the delightfully salty moistness, trying to clear way for a sip of white wine. I managed to squeeze a sip into my chipmunk cheeks. Huh? I took another sip, for I had such a mouthful, a couple of sips was required to wash it all down. “Oh, for strange!” (I imagined in my fake Scandinavian Grandmother’s voice). Take two, however, this time I used some discretion. I took an ample, not pornographic, bite of beef and ‘kraut, chewed slowly, then took another sip. I just threw down the silverware. I must not know shit about shit because this tastes pretty damn good!

Cusumano’s Insolia is a pale straw color. On the nose it’s fruity- not dry but not sweet. One can smell a lovely amalgamation of pineapple, citrus peel and soft hints of floral scents floating in the wind. It is mildly acidic with a medium body, tart but not mouth-puckeringly so. There’s a decent finish, but it doesn’t linger for a while. It’s a combination of so many things, much like the storied island of Sicily. If you like Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc or Citrus-forward Chardonnays, you’ll enjoy this. Plus, it sports a groovy glass topper that’s easy to click back on. I usually drink Insolia throughout the Summer so I felt all discombobulated, how is this happening to taste so good together? I ran to the interwebs to find out if there was any history of the Irish in Sicily? Sicily is a melting pot of different cultures, so perhaps someone’s raping and pillaging somehow resulted in a convergence of white wine and corned beef. I came across this: www.medcelt.org/feile-festa/v001-n001/prose/farinella.html

I cannot make this up. My curiosity of wines has certainly helped quench my thirst, not only for the mighty fermented grape but also another love, history. Now, it doesn’t so much talk about raping & pillaging, nor food, but I don’t care, there’s gotta be something to this. I’d bet a dollar to a dime that Insolia would go swimmingly with lots of ethnic cuisines: Middle Eastern, Greek, African & Spanish to name a few. Try it with different foods, or just sip alone on a breezy Summer day.

Oh, and not to fret: I ate some dark chocolate with the opened Gamay, and that was damn good, too.

Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Cost: Average price $17.99

Where buy now: Readily available $10.99

Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Vintage: 2011

By now, you should know that I’m a sucker for deeply discounted wine. I love catching wind that a surplus of wine is priced to move. Oh, sooo sorry “Mr. Wine Man”! Such was the case with this Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I received an e-mail from Surdyk’s saying they had buttloads of the stuff and had a markdown from $18 to $10. I love me some Sauvignon Blanc in the Summertime, and all the crispy, zesty, tropicality it has to offer. I’ll pour a glass, sit out on the patio and read, feeling the breeze flow through my hair. For a moment, it can transport me to the rolling hills of some far away land.

Admittedly, I have never had a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, so I took advantage of the “whoa is me” retailer forced to sell at a discounted price. In my research, I’ve come to find out that Marlborough is rivaling the wine’s native France producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Situated in the northeast tip top part of the South Island, the climate is rich in warm, sunny days followed by cool nights, low rainfall, and good draining soil- good reasons for all the hubbub. Other varietals such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are starting to receive similar accolades, but for me, it’s all about the Sauvignon Blanc.

Twist it open and the scents of tropical fruit such as passionfruit explode; upon swirling and sticking my nose in the glass I start to receive wafts of peach and citrus. On my tongue, all the flavors of peach, passionfruit, pale apple, grapefruit are present, followed by a twinge of a faint herby quality. This is a snappy little number and that comes across in the finish. This may be a light white wine, but it delivers with zest and acidity in a balanced way. The finish leaves your mouth puckering for more.

‘Tis the Lenten season, so I recommend enjoying with shrimp or grilled fish. If you don’t have a grill pan, get one, already. Grill up fresh asparagus that’s been dusted with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. I am addicted to arugula, so having this wine alongside arugula tossed with lemon juice a little lemon zest, olive oil, cracked pepper, cherry tomatoes and some Romano sprinkled in would leave me grinning. (I’ll sometimes throw in tuna packed in oil for added Mediterranean flavor and protein). Tonight, I enjoyed a grilled cheese with Muenster & Fontina, all melty and oozing, it went well with this wine, too.

I’m so glad I tried this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. God bless wine sales! I fully recommend you sign up on your local wine shop’s e-mail list. You’d be surprised at what they may be pedaling at a good price, and is often how I fall in love with new wines! As the “Kiwis” might say: “Kia Ora”.