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Rethinking Summer Whites
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Jul 19, 2016
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Treana Winery, Central Coast (California), Treana Blanc 2014 ($30):  The first thought that crossed my mind as I tasted the 2014 Treana Blanc on a sultry July afternoon was, “This is certainly not what you’d call a ‘summertime white!’”  My second thought was, “Hell, it’s so delicious I’d drink it even in this heat.”

Relatively light body, crackling high acidity and vibrant flavors of crisp, fresh citrus typify the white wines we tend to reach for in warm weather.  This wine, instead, is full-bodied and unabashedly rich, with aromas and flavors of tropical fruits and honey.  It’s a white wine with the weight and presence worthy of France’s Rhône Valley but more opulent in its flavor intensity, as you would expect from California.

Treana Blanc, in fact, is a blend of grape varieties grown in the Northern Rhône Valley: Viognier and Marsanne at 45 percent each and the more delicate Roussanne at 10 percent.  The wine is also a blend of three different AVAs within the larger Central Coast AVA.  The majority of grapes (57 percent) grew in the Santa Lucia Highlands, while 33 percent came from Monterey and 10 percent from Paso Robles.

The release of Treana Blanc 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Treana Winery, situated in Paso Robles and considered the luxury label of Hope Family Wines, a pioneering Paso Robles wine operation founded in 1978.  Other Hope Family Wines labels include Liberty School, Austin Hope, Candor and Troublemaker.  The Treana line includes Treana Red ($45), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and Treana Chardonnay ($24).

Here’s more detail on what to expect when you taste Treana White 2014: The wine’s aromas suggest guava and apricot with accents of honeysuckle and a vaguely chalky note.  Its flavors are generous and rich, suggesting ripe melon and pineapple with hints of butter, honey and nuts.  The wine is dry but full and generous, with a luxuriously rich, silky texture.  (The texture rewards the slow, thoughtful tasting of this wine as opposed to quick drinking.  I could be happy rolling the wine around in my mouth and never swallowing.)  The taste finishes with fresh, citrus notes.

You would never describe this wine as an oaky white, and yet 80 percent of the blend was barrel fermented--and a quarter of that was new French oak.  Once-used barrels accounted for half the oaked portion and the remainder of the barrels were old enough to be considered neutral.  After blending with the portion fermented in stainless steel, the wine aged for four months in 25 percent new French oak barrels.  Rather than imparting any firmness or woodiness to the wine, the oak treatment has enabled the wine’s richness and complexity.

Corn on the cob--I want to drink this wine with buttered fresh corn cooked on the grill, and swordfish, and avocado slices drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  The wine’s weight, richness, and flavor intensity inspire these imaginary pairings.  Maybe I need to reconsider my definition of “summer white.”

 90 Points