Where does it come from:
The origin of Altesse has been the subject of some debate. It has been suggested that it's identical to Furmint, the noble Hungarian variety used to make the great sweet wine Tokaij. However others suspect that it is indigenous to the hills of Savoie. Today there are fewer than 1,000 acres under cultivation, mostly in France, though there is a small quantity in Switzerland.
What's it like for the farmer:
Altesse needs gentle care, as it is quite to susceptible to the most common forms of grape rot.
Teutonic Wine Company, White Blend, "Pig & Swords,"
Willamette Valley, OR, 2014
Distributor: Paumanok Vineyards, 1074 Main Road, Aquebogue, NY, 11931
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The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and at Blue Ribbon this weather makes us thirsty. As you know, April is Off-Dry White Wine Month around these parts, which means that we are seeking out wines with some sugar in them. But remember, this doesn't mean we want very sweet wines but rather wines with just enough sugar to add fruit and some richness to the equation. With these wines the sweetness is as much a part of a wine's structure as its flavor.
This week we head west to Oregon, to meet one of this country's truly idiosyncratic producers: Barnaby Tuttle, of Teutonic Wine Company. From his first vintage in 2008, Barnaby's goal has been to produce both white and red wines that express the cool elegance of the Willamette Valley in an overtly German style. The white wines have the richness of other classic Oregon whites without hiding the intense mineral character of the soil. The reds, picked early by Willamette standards, are often thought of as light but have a thirst quenching capability that make them wonderful as companions to a meal.
Barnaby and his wife Olga work with a wide variety of whites rarely seen in most West Coast vineyards, but "Pig & Swords" is unusual even by their standards. This wine is a blend of 30% Muller Thurgau (a Riesling hybrid created in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century) and 70% Pinot Noir! What's that you say? It's white wine? In fact it's not so unusual. Of course they make white wine from Pinot Noir in Champagne. But it's quite rare to see it bottled as still wine and rarer still to see it in an off-dry style.
What's that? You just want to know how it tastes? There are the things one might expect, the lush aromatics of fresh green herbs, stone fruit and white flowers like lilies. But what separates this from the pack is the intense mineral core, a result of the deep root system in one of the oldest vineyards in Oregon (planted in 1966). Not to mention the alcohol content is less than ten percent. As the weather warms up and we feel the compulsion to drink outside for long periods of time, this lower percent means that we can have that fifth glass before heading to the subway. So why don't you come check out the hard work of Barnaby and Olga Tuttle this week? We'll be waiting.
Wine Director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants