Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A White Blend Fit a Bishop

Finally, a slow night at home. Not that I don't enjoy all the seasonal socializing. I just need a little time for recharging now and then. A simple night of lounging in front of the TV with a new bottle from an old friend to try is just what I needed.

I say a "new bottle" because we haven't had a bottle of this white blend but, if memory serves, I picked up this il Vescovo at the Vancouver International Wine Festival earlier this year. I don't think it can normally be found in our market. I say "old friend" because the wine hails from a favourite producer in the McLaren Vale region outside Adelaide: Chapel Hill. In checking back on the blog, I'm surprised I haven't already added more bottles from Chapel Hill to The List. I suppose that must mean that we have a good number in our cellar just waiting to be opened. However, rather than go into a lot of detail on the winery, maybe I'll just refer you to my post from when we stayed at the Chapel Hill guest house a couple of years back.

1826.  2011 Chapel Hill - il Vescovo White (McLaren Vale - Australia)

The name for the wine comes from the fact that the winery is built around that historical chapel. The winery has taken to marketing some of its wines with a nod to that past and "il Vescovo" is Italian for "the bishop." The wine, itself, isn't Italian in nature but it does harken to Mediterranean roots. Chapel Hill offers both a red and a white il Vescovo and the white is a blend of Savagnin, Verdelho and Roussanne - grapes that hail respectively from Jura (France), Portugal and the Rhône.

A rather novel blend at that. It's not one that you'd likely run across and it's made all the more interesting in that, up until a couple of years prior to this vintage, most Aussie growers thought their Savagnin was actually Albariño. It appears that, rather than rip out all the faux-Albariño and starting again, a number of wineries are now serving up Savagnin, Chapel Hill included.

Knowing that Savagnin is hardly a grape variety that I sip on a regular basis, I immediately checked my Wine Century Club tally but there it was at #121. I knew I'd run across it before - while in the Barossa Valley as luck would have it, just days before we visited Chapel Hill - but I wasn't sure that I'd added it to my tally as we were only trying it as part of tasting at the time.

Much like how I tend to view Spanish and Italian whites, however, Australia is not generally my first choice for white wines. I'm a long-time Aussiephile when it comes to red but, as a rule, I'll reach for a BC white before I'll open an Aussie white (Margaret River wines being a big exception but there aren't many of those wines in our market). This was intriguing though - not so much in a fruit on the palate kind of way but because it still showed some decent acidity while offering bigger weight than we'd normally see on a BC blend.

It certainly has me looking forward to a return to Chapel Hill and to seeing what whites show up at the 2015 Wine Festival because Australia is the featured region and that might bring out some other surprises like this one. Now, that's a bit of socializing that I'm going to need to rest up for.

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