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CALIFORNIA WHITE BURGUNDY WINES
This group consists of those California wines which have the general character associated with white burgundy. They are usually marketed, like the red types, in the typical stout burgundy bottles.
The generic type of this group is known as "California Chablis." The finest varietal is Chardonnay or Pinot Chardonnay, followed closely in quality by the true Pinot Blanc. Folle Blanche is also a first-class varietal, while so-called "White Pinots" can have their own particular merits.
Use and Service-Excellent with all manner of fish and seafood, white meats, and fowl and traditionally the wines to serve with oysters and clams. Chill for about an hour. Good also for cooking, especially fish.
VARIETALS CHARDONNAY or PINOT CHARDONNAY (Pee-no Shardon-nay)
One of the greatest white wine grapes of all and celebrated for producing the finest white Burgundies of France as well as the "Blanc de blancs" wines used for French Champagne.
Some authorities consider the vine a variation of the Pinot noir, which it resembles in several respects, while others prefer to classify it as a separate variety. Hence the two names, both of which are current in California.
Chardonnay yields in the cooler wine growing districts of California an eminently distinguished wine, golden, full-bodied and fragrant, flavorful and smooth, reminiscent of still champagne. The vine is a very sparse yielder and experts are agreed that only those should attempt to grow it who are prepared for great efforts in its cultivation and in the production of the wine itself, which will of necessity be one of the most expensive on the market. Alameda, Napa, and Santa Clara counties are its California homes.
When the finest California white burgundy is looked for, this is the wine to secure, bottled by an outstanding grower.
PINOT BLANC or PINOT BLANC VIZAI (Pee-no' Blon Vray)
An outstanding white wine grape and second only to Chardonnay in the white burgundy class. In France it is famous for producing the finest Chablis.
In California the wine is sometimes called the true Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Blanc Vrai, to distinguish it from those derived from white grapes with a Pinot name other than Pinot blanc and Chardonnay (see White Pinot).
Pinot blanc yields in California an excellent white wine of the white burgundy type, of distinct aroma and flavor, smooth and dry, fresh and fruity. Alameda and Santa Clara are its main counties of origin; some also is grown in Sonoma and in Napa.
Pinot Blanc should never be used to denote wines produced from the Chenin blanc grape, wines that are properly called White Pinot.
Folle Blanche (Fol Blonsh)
The grape is one of the principal varieties grown in the Charente district in France for the distillation of cognac. Transplanted to California, it has become a much better drinking wine than in its native soil.
Folle Blanche has a very high acid content, which makes it an excellent stock for the production of champagne. It is also used in the better grades of California chablis.
The wine is occasionally met with as a varietal type, notably from Napa Valley hillsides, and is tartly dry, fresh and fruity, and very clean both to nose and palate. It is a typical nice light luncheon wine.
The name of this wine has become generally identified in California with that made from the Chenin blanc or Pineau de la Loire grape. While not a "true" Pinot, it is famous in its own right in France for the white wines of Anjou and Touraine, of which the delightful Vouvray is probably the best known.
In California the Chenin blanc has done extremely well also, notably in Napa County, where it yields a very pleasing, dry, light, and fruity wine which has won wide acceptance under the name of White Pinot.
White Pinot is very occasionally used to denote wines made from the Pinot blanc grape, but this practice should be discontinued, as it only leads to unnecessary confusion.
GENERIC California Chablis
The generic type of California white burgundy, called after the French wines of that name, from the Chablis region of France, northwest of Burgundy proper.
California chablis is pale, straw-colored, and dry, usually more delicate and lighter than sauterne and fruitier and less tart than rhine wine types. It is made from a large variety of grapes, the best of which include Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Folle blanche, and French Colombard.
Most growers bottle a standard-quality California chablis; some especially fine ones are produced in the northern coastal counties. The cheaper ones are often not to be distinguished from dry sauterne and rhine wines.
CALIFORNIA RHINE WINE TYPES
These wines have in common that they are dry, pale green or pale golden, tart, and light. They are mostly derived from the same grapes as the German Rhine and Moselle or the French Alsatian wines or possess the same general characteristics. They are marketed in the tall and tapering amber or white bottles in which the German Rhine and Moselle wines are sold.
California rhine wine is the typical generic wine of this group, which includes a number of very fine varietals. The most importal of these are White Riesling, also called Johannisberg(er) Riesling, Traminer, Sylvaner, Grey Riesling, and Riesling.
Use and Service-Traditional with fish, seafood, and the lighter white meats. Chill for about an hour.
It must be noted that in Germany, where very little red table wine is produced, Rhine and Moselle wines are served with most any course. This is a typical example of a more general use of table wines than the traditional, a practice which this Guide heartily recommends, considering it foolish to restrict the use of any type of wine unnecessarily.
Rhine wine types are also recommended for cooking, especially fish, and make an excellent base for punches and cups.