Who doesn’t love a field of summer flowers, their fragrance and colors stimulating the senses and lifting the spirit? Wine, it turns out, has this effect as well, at least as far as the fragrance is concerned, with some white wines marked by a pronounced floral quality that transports the mind to one of those fields of summer.
Now, balance, of course, is the key thing here; the fruit and flowers must be in harmony in the glass or the wine will be lopsided and, ultimately, a turnoff. It’s an element that gives these wines complexity and layering, qualities that make one bottle stand out over another. It’s important to remember that you won’t smell the flowers, so to speak, in all white wines. That’s because it’s more pronounced in some grape varieties than others. A couple of wines I’ve tasted recently provide excellent examples of that balance, with the floral component serving as an interesting backdrop for the wines.
The two wines I enjoyed are both made from lesser-known grapes that are worth searching for, even if you have trouble finding the specific wines I tasted. The first was from Argentina, the 2007 Torrontes from the Astica winery in the Cuyo Valley of Mendoza.
I found a slightly funky nose when I first opened the bottle (bubble gum came to mind), but then the flowers kicked in. And that’s mainly what this wine is about, as well as a good deal of citrus, especially lime, and a touch of vanilla. When I checked the price — $8 — my eyes almost popped out. I would have guessed $10 to $12, so this one is a real bargain and worth serving as something quite different and appealing. I like it as an aperitif and would pour it with simple fish, chicken or perhaps spicy Asian dishes. It’s imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, N.Y.
The second wine was from Spain, the 2006 Godello “Castelo do Papa” from the Ladera Sagrada winery in the Valdeorras area of Galicia in Spain’s northwest corner. Talk about balance. This $15 wine defines the term. Yes, the flowers are there, but so are melon, honeysuckle and white peach, all adding up to a beautifully subtle and sophisticated wine just made for summer sipping with a range of hors d’oeuvres.
The godello variety is native to the region and, with this wine and others I’ve tasted, shows itself as a serious grape that can, and should, compete on the broader wine scene. Castelo do Papa is imported by Ole, Manhasset, N.Y.
As for the flowers, the quality is also present in some red wines, but you’re more likely to find it in whites. Enjoy the aromas and tastes of summer.
Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at