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Wine Review: White wines made with red grapes worth a look

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In the past, there were three styles of wine: red, white and rose.

Red wine derives its color, flavor and aroma by fermenting the crushed grapes along with the grape skins, as it is from these grape skins that the wine derives not only its color but many of the flavors and aromas that are associated with a red wine.

A white wine is made when the juice, alone, of white grapes is fermented.

The third style is the pink rose, where red grapes are crushed, and the skin is allowed to mix with the juice for a specific time. It’s removed when the grape juice has achieved a desired pink color prior to fermentation.

Today there is a fourth style: a pure white wine made from red grapes whose grape skins have had minimal contact with the grape juice.

I was recently able to sample two versions of this modern wine incarnation, and I believe that their winemakers have created a new and very interesting style.

Trivento White Malbec ($11)
The idea of taking a grape variety that is famous for its dark red color and producing it as a genuine white wine that incorporates the best aromas and flavors of both styles, is an experiment worthy of a latter day Dr. Frankenstein. The winemakers changed the harvest date from March, when the wine grapes are usually harvested, to the last week in January, when the grapes weren't quite as ripe. I should remind the reader that the seasons south of the equator are the reverse of ours. The winemakers then proceeded with the fermentation and part of the way through introduced oxygen gas to the must, knowing that the gas would not impact the characteristics of the grape variety but would just have a bleaching effect on the final color of the wine. The experiment worked and worked so well that we now have the emergence of a new form of an old variety. The wine exhibits the very obvious aroma of green apples, lychee, tropical fruits and a suggestion of pineapple which slowly gives way to the traditional malbec aromas of cherries and strawberries. There is even a bit of tannin to add to the mystery. If you are a person who is interested in wine and has become tired of “the same old thing,” you should try Trivento’s white malbec as I am sure that it will broaden your wine horizons and your enjoyment of wine.

Willamette Valley Vineyards White Pinot Noir ($34)
Please excuse me if I get a bit philosophical, but it seems that when a brand-new item hits the market, there were several others working on the same idea at the same time. The Willamette Valley Vineyards is the first to come up with a white pinot noir; it’s not a rose but a genuine, no nonsense, pure white version of the red pinot noir. The aroma of this wine is about as multifaceted as a wine can be, stressing the white wine components of guava, summer melon and citrus but there are also the floral and fruit aromas that are particular to the pinot noir in the background. The finish turns more to traditional pinot noir with a slight hint of cherries and summer flowers. As a pinot noir lover, I do not find this wine as an insult to the variety but rather as another incarnation. In fact, this wine allows one to enjoy a pinot noir with heavy wintertime meals and lighter warm-weather foods without getting dirty looks from a sommelier at a restaurant.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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