Back when the devil wore Prada, when Americans’ fashion choices were dictated by a supercilious coven of rag-industry mavens, we curtsied prettily when told we must not wear white after Labor Day.
These cynical, rudderless days ... who cares? Santa himself could probably get away with a white suit with white fur trim to cover his bowlful of jelly.
The same goes for wine. Just as the average wine writer is trotting out her fall lineup of heavy-duty cabernet sauvignons, barolos and amarones for fireside sipping, I say let’s not stop drinking whites.
Not the usual, off-the-rack whites like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. Instead, let’s try some unusual designer whites and white blends.
Ever try semillon as a dry table wine? The semillon grape in France’s Bordeaux region is used mostly in fabulous, sweet dessert wines like Chateau d’Yquem, which can retail for up to $500 per half-bottle. Here are a couple of different ones — drier, less fiscally ruinous — from California.
• 2009 Andiron Semillon, Alexander Valley (82 percent semillon, 18 percent sauvignon blanc): very dry, with aromas of camellias and flavors of honey, golden apples and limes, great with rich dishes with creamy sauces; $20. (Recommended)
• 2010 Buty Semillon, Sauvignon & Muscadelle, Colombia Valley, Wash. (61 percent semillon, 21 percent sauvignon blanc, 18 percent muscadelle): In this dry wine, the honeyed semillon is joined by crisp, tart sauvignon blanc and the flowers and musk of muscadelle to make a wine that is crisp, rich and creamy at the same time: $35. (Highly recommended)
This, the favorite wine of Italian gourmands and American hip-hop artists alike (just Google “moscato,” “hip-hop” and “pants”), is usually made from the muscat grape. But Australia’s Peter Lehmann winery makes it from the very similar white frontignac grape.
• 2011 Peter Lehman Art Series Moscato, Barossa, Australia: light, zingy and just off-dry, with floral aromas and lime flavors; $13. (Recommended)
Members of multi-generational, family-owned wineries tell me one of their greatest joys when the harvest is in is to sit around a pot-bellied stove in the picking shed, sip the season’s just-made wine and brainstorm what new blends they would like to try next year. Sometimes they just throw in the kitchen sink.
• 2011 Big House Winery "Big House White, " Monterey (27 percent viognier, 20 percent malvasia bianca, 13 percent gruner veltliner, 9 percent gewurztraminer, 9 percent albariño, 8 percent sauvignon blanc, 7 percent muscat canelli, 4 percent chardonnay, 1 percent riesling, 1 percent pinot grigio, 1 percent other aromatic whites): crisp and rich, with flavors of ripe peaches and mangos and a hint of lime; $10. (Highly recommended).
• 2009 Ferrario-Carrano "Bella Luce" White Wine Blend, Sonoma County (chardonnay, muscat canelli, semillon, muscat giallo, gewurztraminer, pinot blanc, riesling): light and crisp and lively, with a hint of sweetness and flavors of peaches, pineapples and other tropical fruits; $16. (Recommended)