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The Essence of Wine: Peaches


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

Few flavors so fully speak of summer as the delightfully juicy sweetness of peaches. Long prized for their sensuous skin and delicate flavors, and revered for the vitality shown by blossoms that emerge before the tree has leaves, the fruit was the natural food of Chinese deities for millennia, each bite guaranteeing the gods their continued immortality. Carried back along the Silk Road, peaches later flourished in Persia, where enterprising princes likely first bred the fuzz right off their backs. Peaches, nectarines and apricots, with flavors ranging from delicate rose petal to tangy, almost citrus sweetness, can be evoked by some of the world's most compelling wines. Classically associated with grapes like Viognier and Gewürztraminer, peach and especially apricot flavors can appear in many white wines, especially those that are the product of the fungal magic known as botrytis cinerea. Creeping into vineyards under the cover of fog, botrytis concentrates sugars and often seems to open doors to rooms filled with the yellow-fleshed fruits of summer. Some wines, though, seem to need no encouragement to burst forth with their peachy flavors, as anyone who has ever encountered a Condrieu can attest. No matter how some wines end up tasting of peaches, there's little denying that they offer a measure of the same pleasure on the palate, which for many is simply pure gold.

Domaine Yves Cuilleron "Les Chaillets" Condrieu, Rhone Valley, France
Giaconda "Aeolia" Roussanne, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Jorian Hill Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California, USA
Donelan "Venus" White Blend, Sonoma County, California, USA
Domaine Skouras "Viognier Eclectique" Viognier, Peloponnese, Greece
Hugel "Hugel" Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France
Chateau Lafaurie-Peyrauguey White Blend, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
Chateau Dereszla "Aszú 5 Puttonyos" Furmint, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary
Bodegas Colome Torrontes Valle Calchaqui, Salta, Argentina
Heidi Schröck "Ruster Ausbruch Auf den Flügeln der Morgenröte" White Blend, Rust, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Burgenland, Austria
Sauska "Cuvee 113" White Blend, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud