A Paler Shade of White

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When you come to think about it, “white” wine is a curious misnomer. Milk is white and so are Malibu bottles, but “white” wines are transparent. Actually, there are very few wines that are as colourless as water. More often than not, white wines come in different shades of yellow, sometimes with a greenish tinge, sometimes bright gold.

In the case of white Shiraz, the wine is usually a delicate pink. Old and rich Sherries and Madeiras are sometimes brown. Apart from dessert wines, the most important feature to look out for in white wine is freshness. It makes it an ideal welcome drink at parties and celebrations, because a fresh dry white wine is a wonderful stimulant for the appetite.

Terrasses d’Azur Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (white), France. (Friendship Bt. 415)

This Sauvignon Blanc (SOH-vihn-yohn BLAHN) is a pale straw colour with shades of green. It comes from the huge Castel Frères Company near Béziers in Southern France. There’s a fulsome and refreshing, slightly creamy aroma of grapefruit, pineapples and tropical fruit. With bags of grapefruit and pineapple on the taste, you’ll probably notice a citrus acidity cutting pleasantly against the fruit. First impressions are of a well-made wine and this is confirmed by the long and satisfying dry citrus aftertaste. And a dry wine this certainly is, despite the fruity and sweet-smelling aroma.

Prayut Piangbunta, Director & Chief Winemaker at Kao Yai Winery. Prayut Piangbunta, Director & Chief Winemaker at Kao Yai Winery.

I’d be happy to drink this on its own as a refreshing apéritif (it’s only 12% alcohol), though you may prefer it with food. Fish and chicken spring to mind and I think it would work well with some Thai dishes too. Of course, it should be served really quite cold. It’s available at several other local outlets.

“Sawasdee” Chenin Blanc PB Valley 2008 (white), Thailand. (Best, North Pattaya, Bt. 295)

Here’s a real charmer from the Kao Yai Winery. Their vineyards lie more than 900 feet above sea-level, in the hilly Kao Yai district of Nakhon Ratchasima province. Chenin Blanc (SHEN-ihn BLAHN) grapes originate in the Loire valley of France, where they are used for making anything from sparkling wines to dessert wines. Over the years, they have found their way into the New World and are often considered one of the most versatile white grapes of all.

This wine is a light straw colour with a slightly oily, silky appearance. It looks good in the glass, which is always a pleasing start. Actually, it looks a lot more expensive than it is, for this is an amazing bargain. There’s a pretty assertive aroma of pineapple, peaches and rich tropical fruit with slightly peppery overtones – worth at least a dollar a sniff. Swirl it around in the glass and you’ll even see the little rivulets (known as “legs”) running down the inside of the glass.

This classy little wine was made by Prayut Piangbunta, Director & Chief Winemaker at Kao Yai. It’s slightly dry with a light body and a soft silky mouth-feel with a flavour of pineapples and passion fruit. There’s a superb balance of fruit and mellow acid. The wine was aged in stainless steel tanks to preserve the freshness. At just over 12% alcohol, it’s a superb little easy-drinker and would be perfect as an apéritif or welcome wine for your next social event, if you can still afford to have them. I’d suggest that you serve this wine really cool and give it time to breathe. Take out the cork and stick it in the fridge for an hour or so. The wine I mean, not the cork.