During back-to-back trips to California and Greece last month, a few easygoing white wines caught—and held—our attention. In the midst of work and seriousness, they stood out for sheer pleasure, perfect diverting intermissions. At Seghesio Winery, whose Zinfandels from Sonoma have become increasingly robust and bolder, a light, bright, and refreshingly dry Pinot Grigio was a revelation, as was an equally appealing Arneis. What struck me was that neither has an exact correspondent in Italy: The Pinot Grigio wasn’t in the dilute style of so many in the Veneto, nor in the fuller style of Friuli; the Arneis was also lighter (and crisper) than those found in the Piedmont’s Roero, but without sacrificing any flavor. The next day, at the MacMurray Ranch, also in Sonoma, we stopped on a hillside overlooking a bend in the Russian River, above the afternoon fog line, and had a glass of their Pinot Gris, dry, lightly fruity, and with the sort of limestone finish that I can only think of as—I hate to say it, as it’s become so traduced—minerality (and, again, unlike European versions such as Alsatians). As I wrote at the beginning, none of these were “serious,” but all were seriously pleasant. Maybe California’s on to something in terms of style, something unashamedly independent. If these are examples of that, it’s welcome.
Moschofilero. A more elusive animal. Stay tuned, please.