Aromatherapy: The truth about taste

Enter the complex world of describing wine

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Here are some terrific grape varieties on which to try the tasting advice above. Though each of these grapes is beginning to be grown on the West Coast, I've recommended a stellar wine from the grape's ancestral home.


PINOT GRIGIO (also known as Pinot Gris): This fresh, light, snappy wine can be found all across northern Italy. (Note that Pinot Gris from Alsace, France, is a weightier version.) Try Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige; the 2000 costs about $15.

VIOGNIER: Sensual, rich, wildly aromatic, floral, and perfumed, Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-gnay) is an exotic grape. Its home is Condrieu in the Rhône Valley of France. Try E. Guigal Condrieu; the 2000 costs about $35.


GRENACHE: Like a pot of homemade black cherry jam, Grenache is juicy and irresistible. The best in the world is grown in southern France, where it's the dominant grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Try Château La Nerthe; the 1998 costs about $37.

MOURVEDRE: Dark, masculine, and brooding, Mourvèdre is a serious red wine. One of the world's best examples is Domaine Tempier from the southern French town of Bandol; the 1999 Bandol Rouge costs about $30.

SANGIOVESE: This is the great grape of Chianti, with flavors reminiscent of dried leaves, tea, even citrus. Sangiovese has a lot of acidity (unusual for red wine), making it terrific with food. Try Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva; the 1997 tan label costs about $21.

SYRAH: The most dramatic, meaty, spicy, licorice-flavored Syrahs in the world come from a tiny place in the northern Rhône Valley called Côte-Rôtie. The 1999 Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie Les Bécasses costs about $86.

Sunset's Wine Club


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