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There is more to White Wine than Chardonnay


Photo by Constance Chamberlain at Domaine Sigalas

While I enjoy Chardonnay, especially unoaked, there are other white wine varietals beyond the world’s most popular grape that are interesting and readily available.

Here are my “Top 5 White Wine Varietals beyond Chardonnay” along with their basic flavor profiles:

  1. Riesling: Riesling is an aromatic grape variety with floral aromas and high acidity. Riesling ranges from dry, semi-sweet and sweet and makes a delicious sparkling wine. Riesling grows in many regions of the world including Germany, France (Alsace), Austria, South Africa and the United States (including California and New York).
  2. Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white wine.  This wine is bright with lemony and grassy flavors.
  3. Viognier:  Packed with floral aromas and tropical fruit flavors, this wine varietal should be drunk young as it often loses some of its bold aromas and flavors as it ages.
  4. Albariño:  This grape comes from Galicia is northwest Spain.  Similar in character to Viognier, Albariño offers citrus and peach flavors with high acidity levels.  This grape can now be found in California.
  5. Assyrtiko: Assyrtiko is one of Greece’s finest white grape varieties.  This grape is dry and full-bodied with citrusy aromas with great minerality that comes from the volcanic soil it grows in.  Assyrtiko is planted on about 75% of the vineyards in Santorini.

There are many more white grapes, but the above are versatile and very food-friendly.  Summer is a great time to explore whites outside your comfort zone.  Here are some favorites within the five categories described above:

Rieslings:

  • 2009 Circle Riesling ($13) – Finger Lakes, NY USA
  • 2009 Weingut Brundlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Riesling ($25) – Austria
  • 2008 Chateau Montelena Potter Valley Riesling ($23) – California, USA

Sauvignon Blancs:

  • 2008 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($13) – New Zealand
  • 2010 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc ($12) – New Zealand
  • 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Sauvignon Blanc ($30) – California, USA

Viogniers:

  • 2007 Bonterra Vineyards Viognier ($16) – California, USA
  • 2010 Domaine des Salices Viognier ($12) – France
  • 2010 Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Viognier ($12) – France

Albariños:

  • 2009 Fillaboa Granja Albarino Rias Baixas ($20) – Spain
  • 2009 Pazo Senorans Albarino ($20) – Spain
  • 2009 Santiago Ruiz ($20) – Spain

Assyrtikos:

  • 2010 Boutari Santorini Assyrtiko ($19) – Greece
  • 2011 Domaine Sigalas Santorini Oia ($20) – Greece
  • 2010 Gaia Estate Assyrtiko Thalassitis ($20) – Greece

Here are some of our favorite New Jersey wine shops:

Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.

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