A division of The Other Guys wine group (Sebastiani family), The White Knight brand’s motto is “Saving the world from the tyranny of Chardonnay!” Cute.
After their initial offering of an impressive Viognier, the Knights have expanded into Riesling, Moscato, and Pinot Grigio as well. Like all the TOG wines, these are good, classic representations available at reasonable prices ($10-15 each). This week, I tried all four.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: 2011 MOSCATO.
Moscato, like Riesling, is often derided as “too sweet” and “a beginner’s wine.” While swill versions of both varieties are certainly made, a good Moscato is just enchanting. This is one of them.
The White Knight 2011 Moscato (50% Muscat of Alexandria, 27% Muscat Canelli, 20% Pinot Grigio, 3% Orange Muscat; 93% California, 5% Lodi, 2% Clarksburg, 13.3% ABV) is beautiful. Intensely aromatic, it is piquant and slightly sweet, exhibits lychee and roses on the nose and palate with honey emerging later, and shows a surprising little nip of minerality in the finish. This is just fine to drink by itself; the winemakers agree with me, suggesting that we enjoy it “as an aperitif, [or] with whole prawns split in half, marinated in Thai spices, charbroiled and served over a bed of mixed greens with a chili dressing.” 2,000 cases produced.
The winemaker notes, “Our Moscato is a blend of Muscat Canelli, Muscat Alexander, a touch of Orange Muscat and a medium helping of Pinot Grigio. Both varietals were grown in various appellations along the California coastline and central valley, where Muscat varietals thrive. The wines were arrested mid fermentation to leave residual sugar from the grapes, which we believe this is among purest expressions of the Muscat varietal,” hence the lack of cloying sweetness. (I would love, however, to be The Other Guys’ sweet but uncloying editor.)
RECOMMENDED: 2012 PINOT GRIGIO.
The 2012 Pinot Grigio (80% Pinot Grigio, 20% Vermentino; Lodi, 11.5% ABV) is very pleasant. Pale straw-green with apple, honeysuckle, and a little vanilla and citrus on the nose. Hints of baking spices, melon, and a slice of lemon. This is a good solid wine that is soft and mouth-filling with good weight; it would pair well with food. The winemakers suggest “Roasted Chicken, crushed fingerling potatoes, torpedo onions, and wild mushroom sauce. Or try a tasty summer alternative – grilled Halibut with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette and a side of BBQ’d asparagus.” 2,850 cases produced.
RECOMMENDED: 2010 RIESLING.
This one is also sturdy and good. I reviewed the 2010 in June 2012 (click here to read the review), so it was interesting to revisit it a year later. It has held up well, and although it’s a little deeper in color than it was, it has no flaws whatsoever and is softer and rounder than it was a year ago. I am a fan of screwcap closures, which typically allow a longer lifespan with more neutral aging than corks can sustain.
Winemaker’s notes: “Lake County, located just north of Napa, has been growing premium wines since the mid 19th century. This diverse appellation exhibits many soil types including sandy loam, serpentine; iron red volcanic soils; gray-weathered, cinder ash and silt blends; and deep alluvial soils located at the base of dormant volcano Mount Konocti. The Lake County growing climate is strongly influenced by Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California.”
With 5,400 cases produced and 13.5% ABV, once again The White Knight has produced a Viognier (90% Viognier, 6% Chardonnay, 4% Muscat Alexandria; 96% Clarksburg, 4% California) with velvet gloves that still pack a punch. This wine makes me think, and I like that.
I reviewed the 2008 (click here to read the review) and it’s very interesting to have the privilege of sampling subsequent vintages. My impression of this is similar: to describe it quickly, its first impression is a mashup of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It isn’t as tart, puckering, and cat-peeish/asparagusy as Sauvignon Blanc (although it’s close), and it isn’t as fruity as the Chardonnay. The 2011 Viognier has a citrus edge, crisp acidity, and a mineral component. It is more austere than the 2008, and like a dominatrix, it demands that you either take it seriously or walk away.
The winemaker notes, “Surrounded by the cooling waterways of the Sacramento River Delta and San Francisco Bay, the Clarksburg Winegrowing Appellation is fast earning a reputation for growing lovely Viognier grapes. Its deep sandy loam and clay soils and naturally high water table provide uncommonly rich ground to grow in. Wilson Vineyards has consistently delivered us high quality Viognier. Mostly tank fermented for crispy freshness, with a hint of French Oak for deep richness, we know you’ll enjoy this wine again and again. A dab of Chardonnay was added to give this wine some additional mouthfeel and the Muscat adds some stone fruit and beautiful aromatics.” They suggest pairing this wine “with stuffed pasta and a light lemon cream sauce, peach stuffed chicken breast over a bed of spinach with toasted hazelnuts, or margarita pizza.”
LABEL. They vary, but they all close with “Never follow the conventional path of wine, develop your own love and tastes. Be the Chess player, not the Chess piece.”
OVERALL. My pick of the litter was the Moscato, but any of these may leave their shoes under my bed any time.
Samples received for review.