I've become a big fan of white wines from the Rhône over the years. Condrieu, white Hermitage and white Châteauneuf-du-Papes: These are rare birds indeed, accounting for just 5 percent of the region's production. I like their interesting mix of rich, ripe white fruit flavors and exotic spice notes.
During a recent lunch at A Voce restaurant in New York, I was perusing the wine list while dining with Portuguese vintner João Ribeiro of Quinta do Vallado in the Douro. While the Douro is gaining renown for its deeply flavored red table wines, many top wineries, such as Vallado, are making an effort with whites as well. (Joao is planning a new wine project based on the Alvarinho grape.) Much as in the Rhône, these whites account for only a small fraction of the region's production, but are intriguing for their distinctive flavors. Most top producers are still looking for a definitive style for white Douro, so I decided to search out something on the A Voce list that might make a good comparison.
My eyes quickly settled on a white Châteauneuf by Perrin & Fils called Les Sinards, priced at $69, and sommelier Olivier Flosse vouched for its quality. The wine is a blend of 75 percent Grenache Blanc and 25 percent Clairette. Viscous and spicy, it featured rich flavors of fig, apricot, coconut, vanilla and cream. I rated it 92 points, non-blind, and Joao nodded his head in approval as well. It was a lush counterpoint to the clean, pure flavors of our seafood entrées, which were expertly prepared by new A Voce chef Missy Roberts (formerly of Spiaggia in Chicago, reportedly one of President Barack Obama's favorite restaurants).