Full Bodied White Wine
- If creamy, nutty white wines packed with ripe tropical-fruit flavours sound like your idea of heaven, then "full bodied" whites are for you. With more weight and aromatic character than their crisper counterparts, many of these wines have the weight to cope with oak ageing and the vanilla-and-toast complexity that comes with it.
Chardonnay, especially the oaky, buttery kind, is the classic example of a full-bodied, wooded style white wine. Making it is more like making a red wine than an aromatic white wine, such as Riesling. Compared to making an aromatic white wine, the full bodied style involves:
Starting with riper grapes, with the result that the finished wine has higher alcohol and less acid.
Significant contact with oak, either through barrel fermentation or some other means, thus giving the wine more complex aromas and enhanced tannin levels. Ageing a wine in oak can have various effects on a wine. Flavour-wise, you might find vanilla, coconut notes from American oak whereas French oak gives more smoky, toasty aromas, Because oak is porous, controlled extra oxygen exposure can add more texture and complexity.
Deliberate introduction of a malolactic fermentation to further soften the wine. Malolactic fermentation is a second fermentation where malic acid (the acids of apple) is converted to softer, lactic acids (the acids of milk). This results in a creamier, softer texture with less citrus acidity and more buttery, nutty flavours.
Sur lie aging (aging on spent yeast cells) to develop more aromatic complexity and body. The lees are dead yeast cells that are leftover from fermentation. Sometimes winemakers choose to leave these lees in the maturing wine for a while rather than filtering them straight out, and will give them a good stir to really get the flavours going. Expect to find rich, bready, yeasty complexity in white wines that have undergone this process. Full bodied white wines usually have a longer shelf life than lighter white wines and they tend to develop more complexity with age. Wines with very obviously oaky flavours are harder to match well with food in general, but they can be a good match for Chicken in a creamy sauce, butternut squash risotto, a good, rich fish pie, chicken liver parfait, or lobster if you're feeling fancy.
BORDEAUX BLANC (bore-doh BLAHNK)
Think baked orchard fruit pie with apples and pears. Now add caramelised grapefruit, some figs and a cup of chamomile tea.
Bordeaux Blanc, or White Bordeaux, is the name given to a wine blend out of the Bordeaux region, made from Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc and perhaps Muscadelle. It is produced as a dry, full-bodied white wine or dry light-bodied white wine. As a full bodied dry, it is a more highly sought after and therefore more difficult wine to acquire. It contains within it a more rich and oily texture with more baked flavours of apple and pear. The grapefruit in this variation tends to have a caramelize feature with additions of ginger, figs and chamomile.
OAKED CHARDONNAY (shar-doh-nay)
From European butter in your glass to a California/Australian tropical fruit sensation
Oaked Chardonnays show the characteristics of a rich and full body. Chardonnay that hails from cooler regions in Europe move towards a more elegant and refined character of grilled nuts and a mineral notes like seashells, wet stone and metal (apparently!). From California and Australia, they usually have higher alcohol content, fuller body and bigger fruit flavours. These tend towards two varieties, based on ripeness of the Chardonnay. In the case of a very ripe chardonnay, the wine will take on characteristics of fruity tropical twists, hitting notes of banana, pineapple, guava, mango and figs.
It is the oaking fermentation that displays Chardonnay's greater aroma and flavour capabilities. There are different forms of oaking a Chardonnay which vary from French oak barrels, to generic barrels, to oak chips and even essential oak oils poured in the wine. The first style produces the highest quality Chardonnay while the last process produces the poorest quality oaked Chardonnay. These aromatic capabilities may include vanilla, butter and coconut. Chardonnay has the capability of very rich textures of Oiliness, creaminess and smoothness through Malolactic fermentation.
Montrachet is worth a special mention, as it is considered by many wine buffs as the finest dry white wine in the world. It is certainly the most expensive: prices can range from £50 to £5,000 per 750ml bottle. The price depends on the reputation of the producer (in Burgundy, vineyards are divided among multiple growers and there can be substantial variation in quality) and the vintage. The hill has less than 20 acres of vines divided between five vineyards.
SAVENNIERES CHENIN BLANC (sah-ven'nyair shen-in BLAHNK)
The finest dry, full bodied, white wine in France.
Savennieres is a sub-region in Loire Valley, France. It is said to be home to some of Frances finest full bodied, dry white wines using Chenin Blanc. The Chenin Blanc grape variety tends to give these Savenniere wines complex, savoury, intense flavours of minerals and honeyed straw, beeswax and chamomile.These wines are described to be best after ageing for at least five years and are often too tart and intense at a young age.
An aroma and taste that you just cant pass up.
An aromatic, medium to full bodied wine with low acidity, Viognier is known for its clear, golden colour and its strong floral aromas of fresh lavender, orange blossom and pollen. While the nose touches on sweetness, the taste is dryer, making this full bodied white a dry wine. In its most classic cases, it holds bold apricot flavors coupled with ripe peaches.
Viognier has been blended with Syrah in the Cote Rotie blend, is part of the Southern Rhone Blend White, and is known to mingle with Chardonnay.
A versatile wine with a sweet and full bodied option. Think sweet honeyed orchard fruits that stay crisp without being overly syrupy and thick
Riesling wines originate in Germany, have expanded worldwide and can span a broad range of styles. A Riesling can be produced to have a full body or light, to be dry or sweet. Riesling wines are known for their high aromatic quality with the sweet smell of fruits and floral including apples, nectarines, apricots, peaches, pears, honey and spice. These apple, pear and peach come out in the flavor and sometimes expand to include more tropical and citrus flavors often reminisced due to the wine's high acidity. European Rieslings can pick up mineral qualities in the aroma and even in the flavor. These sweeter Rieslings can boast a lushness to their character as well as the still crisp quality, not being overly syrupy and thick in texture.
The body and sweetness or dryness of a Riesling can vary from region to region and winery practices to winery practices. Germany makes every style of Riesling and those that tend towards the fuller bodied and dryer qualities may be labelled under . Other regions the practice in producing a fuller bodied and dryer wine are some out of Alsace, most out of Austria and California's smaller wineries may dabble in the dryer variety.
GRUNER VELTLINER (GREW-ner VELT-lee-ner)
Queue the spice and the honeyed citrus
Almost exclusive to Austria, Gruner Veltliner can take on two characters, one of a highly acidic, lighter bodied, fresher crisp nature. The second style of Gruner Veltliner takes a weightier, fuller bodied and more complex nature. This second nature highlights the peppery quality and gives a dry and rich texture. These are aged Gruner Veltliner which need time to soften. When this occurs it creates a honeyed quality to its citrus fruits.
So, don't be shy, grab a glass and dive in to a "full fat", meaty white this weekend.