Somehow White Wines do not get their due attention and acclaim in the market. This author will admit that this was the case with him until a couple of years ago. It is true that at the finer end of fine wines, there are fewer whites that hold their own against the reds – the top Loire Chenin Blancs, Burgundy Chardonnays, and German Rieslings come to mind. However, white, red, pink or sparkling wines, at different price points and provenance, have their rightful place on the table at the right time. One learns to discern and pick the right kind of wine for the right occasion – and to pick from a broader pool over time. This ability grows with experience fueled by a willingness to explore.
Here are four whites that everyone must try. They are off the beaten path for the mainstream consumers. Hence they offer outstanding values for what they are.
1. Grüner Veltliner: This is an Austrian flagship varietal. Most Grüners are delicious everyday quaffers at relatively low price points ($10 – $20). In addition to lending themselves to consumption on their own, Grüners are also very compatible with a wide array of foods including some complicated pairings such as asparagus. Classic Grüners present black pepper and subtle horse radish nose and palate. If you really take to it and want to explore more complex Grüners at slightly higher price points – you can try Grüners rated as Steinfeder, Federspiel, or Smaragd from the Wachau region in Austria.
2. Pinot Blanc: Interestingly, bottles labeled Pinot Blanc from Alsace (France) are typically a blend of the varietal Pinot Blanc and a grape called Auxerrois. It is also bottled as a varietal in Germany where it is called Weissburgunder. Pinot Blancs offer a floral nose and citrus and apple notes. It is also sometimes referred to as Klevner.
3. Torrontés: This refers to the Torrontés from Argentina – just to confuse matters, there is a European Torrontés which is actually a different grape. The best Torrontés comes from Salta in northern Argentina. Torrontés is aromatic and presents a lively nose and aromas of citrus fruits – particularly orange, and stone fruits such as peach. Even though most Torrontés are dry, they ‘feel’ sweet and give the palate a fruity and rounded. They are great on their own and with a variety of foods including spicy Thai and Indian dishes.
4. Verdejo: This is a Spanish varietal from the Rueda region. Verdejo’s recently growing popularity is one of the most exciting stories in wine today. This renaissance is due to the fact winemakers have changed the way they treat this grape. They used to make an oxidized Sherry-style wine from Verdejo. More recently, they have started making fresh non-oxidized wine and are finding that Verdejo offers delightful fresh fruit and flowery aromas. Verdejos are increasingly becoming a crowd favorite owing to their approachability and ease of pairing with a variety of food profiles.
All four described above are relatively easy to find – certainly in a wine store but also in the wine section of many supermarkets. Pick one up, uncork and enjoy!
Remember to bookmark this column homepage and look for a new article every Wednesday. You may also consider following the author on twitter @SFEnophile for regular tweets on wine tips and values. Feedback of all sorts is humbly invited – you can click on the e-mail or comment links to the left of this column to write.