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Friday, March 15, 2013

White wine for red wine drinkers

There are a lot of folks, and it seems to be mostly males for some reason, that proclaim to only drink red wine. They just don't like whites. By a big margin Chardonnay is the biggest selling white wine. Could it be that these people belong to the ABC club (Anything But Chardonnay) and apply it to all white wines?

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris/Grigio are very popular, but can seem a little simplistic if you're used to something like a full-bodied Cabernet.


Way down the list in popularity in American wines is Viognier (vee-oh-nyay).  It's a big, rich wine of intense flavors. The grape is from the Rhone region of France. In the U.S. the largest concentration of Viognier is in the central coast region of California. It is a floral grape, much like Riesling and Muscat, so it has a sweet aroma, but is a dry white table wine. It tends to be soft (lower acid) and rich and full-bodied.

Some California Viogniers you may want to check out:
Arrowood, Cline (cheap), Hawley, Iron Horse, Miner, Pride Mountain (expensive), Tablas Creek

And there are many more. Oregon and Virginia are big on Viognier, too. It is often blended with other Rhone varietals, usually Roussanne and Marsanne. You can also find late harvest Viognier. 

"Naked" Chardonnay

Many just don't go for the oak and buttery flavors of the typical New World-style Chardonnay, including me. The only Chard I've bought in the last couple years was a lightly oaked one that had no malolactic fermentation. This secondary fermentation is what turns those crisp, apple-like acids into milky acids. This might be needed for some of the cold climate French Chards that are too tart otherwise. It probably isn't needed in California, but we've done it because the French do it.

Usually the unoaked Chardonnays are labeled as such. I don't know of anyone labeling their wine as "No MLF" (no malolactic fermentation). And your preference might be for something lightly oaked or with light ML rather than none at all.

Dry Rosé

Rosés are reds made like whites. Some can be syrupy sweet, but the good ones are crisp and flavorful. Try one made from Sangiovese or Grenache. Check out Kokomo, Quivira, and Valley of the Moon.