While it’s still cold outside, and it’s still red season for the most part… I felt like I needed to vary things a bit, and I’ve been eyeing this bottle in my cellar for some time, along with it’s Sweet Willow counterpart. For science (that most harsh of mistresses), I decided to throw seasonality into the wind and indulge my craving for a white wine.
2014 Willow White, from D.A. Ranch
The Wine: The 2014 Willow White is, like the 2013 we podcasted before, a majority Seyval Blanc (I think 100%). Furthermore, it is all from the estate vineyard, which I know pretty well, having helped harvest the grapes which will go into the 2015 vintages. Seyval Blanc, as you may remember, is a hybrid varietal with complicated genetics (50% Vitis vinifera, 37% Vitis rupestris, and 13% Vitis licencumii). A particularly interesting thing about it is that it continuously produces fruit throughout the growing season, meaning you can have multiple picks quite easily. It’s also pretty tolerant towards cold weather, which is why D.A. grows it at the coldest part of their property. 2014 was the last vintage of D.A. Ranch fruit which was made by Eric Glomski; future vintages are being made by Joe Bechard at Chateau Tumbleweed. The wine was aged in stainless steel.
The Nose: The wine opens up with notes of honeysuckle, persimmon, and lychee. The slight creamy foxy note that’s typical in my (admittedly limited) experience with “hybrid varietals is also present at the opening. After the wine opens, notes of lemongrass and crisp, fresh apples also emerge from the glass.
The Palate: Stonefruit is the predominant note of the 2014, intermingling with lemon, persimmon, and lemongrass. After the wine opens up, notes of banana and slight thyme emerge as well. I feel like the palate of this vintage is a little more full-bodied and rounded than the ’13, and slightly less acidic. Less acidity is not a bad thing–it’s still a very thirst-quenching wine. The finish is long, with hints of minerality and lingering thyme, and a slight bit of what reminds me of lemon cream, lasting for about 1 minute 32 seconds, with just a subtle hint of seasalt as well.
The Pairing: This wine would be great on it’s own, chilled, on a hot summer day–which is a long way off, yet. The 2014 Willow White would also go great with Tandoori chicken, with a side of Basmati rice, cucumber salad, grilled veggies, and some roasted corn on the cob, with a bit of vanilla ice cream or some sort of citrus sorbet to finish off the meal. For a vegan or vegetarian pairing, a salad with pine nuts or pecans would work quite well.
Impressions: This wine is quite light and charming. Again, as I said before, it’s a little bit more full-bodied and less acidic than the ’13, but it’s still pretty crisp. I again like this much better than the examples of Seyval Blanc I’ve tasted from more “traditional” regions for this varietal, such as the Midwest (though I’m still hunting for a UK version).
The personification of the 2014 Willow White is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. At first, I thought this wine could be a buxom blonde professor of botany, who regularly leads guided nature walks for children along desert streams, but something seemed off and lacking with that interpretation… The fact is, I’ve always been intrigued by how Seyval, like Malvasia, seems to pick up the local geology of wherever it’s planted in the wine; in this case, that slight bit of sea salt from the lost Pedregosa sea, so she might be a geologist, instead of a botanist (but still a professor). Her preferred drink, when not drinking wine, is a vodka tonic.