White wine blends: Poised the edge of balance
Most of the time, we take white wine blends as a taste of passing fancy. But sometimes things get a little more serious, especially with the creative and unrestricted styles of American winemakers. Now, there are quite a few wineries who have been creating superb “blanc” blends on this side of the pond, year-after-year.
One of these white blends that had a really excellent 2015 vintage is Franciscan’s “Equilibrium”. The main part of the Napa 2015 growing season started out cool as the vines began to bud. When combined with ongoing drought conditions, there were lower yields than the previous 3 years. The smaller grape clusters changed the intensity of the fruit this time around. Blending a high-quality white wine is no easy accomplishment, even under the best of circumstances, so it’s amazing how rich this one turned out.
Equilibrium’s bouquet is a sensory greeting of peach, mango, and traces of grapefruit. However, it is on the palate where the trio of varietals within the blend really comes into play. Each seems to take their turn right up to the finish!
First, there is the citrus of the blend’s Sauvignon Blanc with all the zippy character of the vintage. This is followed by the green apples of the Chardonnay, with just a small taste of oak. In the end, the Muscat dominates with its soft sweetness to balance it off.
All this makes it perfect by itself or with light appetizers. And the slight sweetness on the finish puts it right in there with spicy Thai food. Even with a big platter of zippy skewered chicken thighs on the grill, it’s a blast.
Of course, if you’re going to serve lighter seafood fare, like shrimp cocktail, you may enjoy Franciscan’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It replaces Equilibrium’s tropical fruit with grapefruit and lemony citrus with no trace of sweetness.
In fact, the Sauvignon Blanc is tart, but with a pure refreshing finish. It is good to know that 2015’s challenges only slightly affected the Sauvignon Blanc’s character. However, if you intend on serving one of these solo, pick the Equilibrium.
Another one to consider is “Conundrum” (surely a direct competitor). It is also a well-defined white blend that peels though the senses in layers. With a little more melon and tropical fruit than the Equilibrium, this makes for an excellent comparison between two excellent values in American white wine blends.
Chill down really well before serving these puppies. The tropical fruit and citrus bouquet will be there even when served really cold. They will develop in the glass perfectly.
Total Wine carries the Franciscan wines in the $15 price range with the Conundrum in the low $20’s.