• Two Thumbs Way up
• Fresh aromas of lime zest, lemon curd, talc and bananas. Bright, tart flavors of lemon, lime, passion fruit, white pepper and touch of green bell pepper that are elegantly balanced with a creamy butteriness.
(Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from thumbs down, one thumb mostly up, one thumb up, two thumbs up, two thumbs way up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.)
Butter! What’s not to like right? I can’t imagine waffles without it. Potatoes seem to have a limitless capacity for the stuff. Three words that go together: “buttered,” “popcorn” and “mmmmm.” And crusty bread and butter go together like, well, you know.
What is it that we like about butter? Not to go all scientific on you, but it’s not butter per se, but the compound diacetyl (di-a-SEE-til) in butter that we humans love to have slipping and sliding on our tongues and wafting under our noses. As far as wine goes, diacetyl is created by yeasts in the fermentation process. It is also a byproduct of a secondary, bacterial metabolic process called malolactic fermentation, which I’m not going to get into now.
If a little butteriness is good in wine, more is better, right? Well, not necessarily. As it is with so many things in life, balance and harmony are the keys to happiness. Winemakers and wine lovers fell in love with über-buttery styles, especially chardonnays and sauvignon blancs, starting in the 1980s. I like a little butter on my pancakes, but having a little pancake with my butter is out of whack.
What’s wrong with the crisp green apple, pear and lemony yumminess of chardonnay? Or the lemongrass, grapefruit and melon wonderfulness of sauvignon blanc? Nothing. Well, nothing that a little butter can’t help, right? But the keyword here is “little.” Fortunately, most winemakers these days are returning to earth with their use of diacetyl….some are probably already taking the move away from butteriness too far.
I was recently reminded of sensible manipulation of diacetyl as I tasted Chalk Hill’s sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, made by Jordon Fiorentini, the former winemaker for Georgia’s Frogtown Cellars. They are wonderfully complex wines with a crisp acidity that is balanced with her judicious spreading of the butter.