Rodney Dangerfield’s Revenge: Murrieta’s Well The Whip 2010

screen shotIn the U.S., white blends have been the Rodney Dangerfield of wine. They aren’t considered elegant, like a White Burgundy, or bold and brassy, like a California Chardonnay. They don’t have the pedigree of a classic Alsatian or German Riesling, or the sassiness of a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. White blends aren’t any one thing at all.

And that’s a problem in the U.S.: Americans want their wine, like their politics, to be cut and dried. They don’t want ambiguity or confusion — they want the label on their wine to say clearly and unequivocally, “Chardonnay,” or “Sauvignon Blanc,” or whatever.

So I was intrigued when I found a white blend called “The Whip”. It’s not one thing, mind you, but the winery, Murrieta’s Well, had the good sense to list all six grapes right there on the front label. We like that in a wine!horse

First, let’s look at some background. The winery dates back to the 1880′s and is named for the watering hole frequented by Mexican gold-miner-turned-desperado Joaquin Murrieta. The spirit of the Old West and California’s Gold Rush Days lives on at the winery. Situated in a sunny valley that benefits from the cool fog and breezes off San Francisco Bay, Murrieta’s Well is known for “The Whip” and its sister red blend, “The Spur.”

The six grapes blended to make The Whip 2010 include Sauvignon Blanc (31%), Viognier (27%), Semillon (15%), Pinot Blanc (11%), Orange Muscat (*%), and Muscat Canelli (8%). Right off the bat (or off the nose), I sensed richness and lushness. Rich aromatics suggested honeysuckle and orange blossom, which always says “Viognier” to me. I expected a similarly rich palate, and I got it. There was honey and exotic fruit that was just about to become cloying, when the acid kicked in and gave me a clean, dry finish.

This blend was well designed. The aromatic grapes set the tone, but the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc create balance and structure. Balance is definitely the key here: perceived sweetness up front, crisp dryness on the finish, and no harsh edges anywhere.

For about $20 retail The Whip makes a nice wine for those who want a great “tween-er” white. I’d like to taste this with Seared Scallops or any kind of Pacific Rim dishes. Let me know what you think, and Cheers!

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