Are you a Chardonnay drinker? The ABCs of Chardonnay, or “Anything But Chardonnay” movement began several years ago when many brand-level chardonnay producers all wanted to mimic the success of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay with its oaky, buttery creamy flavor and texture. We are fortunate to have in 2017 many faces and facets of Chardonnay. Chardonnay styles vary from the unoaked crisp apple and pear expressions to the new oak, barrel-aged buttery, creamy mouth-feel variety.
Why not widen your horizons from Chardonnay to these 7 white wine varietals that are gaining more attention? Each suggested wine has a 90+ point rating. The wines hail from such diverse wine regions as South America, Alsace, Spain, California, France, Oregon, and Italy.
Party Idea: Throw a sampling party of these 7 stand-out white wines for summer, and add these delicious varietals to your wine Rolodex©.
Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc grapes make white wine that takes on the different expressions of the area’s terroir – climate, soil, sun, wind, elevation. For example, a Sonoma Russian River Sauvignon Blanc like Merry Edwards has aromas and tastes of tropical fruit and crème brûlée. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Kim Crawford may have aromas of grapefruit and grass evident of the wines of the Marlborough region.
Wine Spectator 93 Points
Tasting Notes: Notes of muskmelon, mango, papaya and guava widen the aroma, along with accents of white peach, nectarine and Meyer lemon. Hints of minerality, crème brûlée and toasted hazelnuts add even more sophistication. This wine is lush with good viscosity. Sweet Ruby Red grapefruit, tangerine zest and lively acidity throughout balance this richness.
Viognier: The most famous white wine in France’s Rhône Valley comes from the Viognier grape. The Condrieu AOC -Appellation d’Origine – in Northern Rhône has outstanding wines. Viognier’s New World expression exhibits a rich mouthfeel, floral aromas, with lychee and stone fruit flavors.
Wine Enthusiast 91 Points
Tasting Notes: This winery delivers aromas of apple, nectarine and lime zest highlighted by sweet honeysuckle notes. Although not technically sweet, this wine has great dessert flavors: hazelnuts, toasted almonds and poached pears with a very long finish.
Chenin Blanc: Chenin Blanc is grown virtually around the world and may be most famous in the Loire Valley region of France and in South America, where it is also know as Steen. Chenin Blanc is used to make everything from dry white wines to sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines.
Wine & Spirits 90 Points
Tasting Notes: This wine has delightful aromas of sweet, juicy melon, pear drop and fragrant grapefruit. On the palate, expect rich, rewarding flavors of ripe tropical fruit and luscious citrus. Aromatic, fruity and well rounded – an elegant wine features a soft silky texture and vibrant, fresh finish.
Moscato: Asti, Italy is the most famous home of the Moscato grape. Now, many regions of the world – including the US and Australia – grow this aromatic grape. “Moscato Madness” is alive in the US, and Moscato one of the fastest growing varietal wines. Moscato is now the #3 white wine in the US. The “frizzante” or lightly sparkling wine has caught fire. It’s light, low-alcohol, sweet style has captured some of the former “White Zin” drinkers. But, the food-friendly wine has also attracted its own new audience. Featured here is one of the premier Italian producers, Saracco, of Asti, Italy. White wines for summer don’t get much better than this. A perfect food pairing for Moscato is: Dim Sum, white chocolate, and dessert with raspberries, cheesecake. White wines for summer don’t get much better than this.
Wine Enthusiast 92 Points
Tasting Notes: Intensely aromatic, this wine opens with tantalizing scents of citrus blossom, yellow peach, and aromatic herb. The creamy, foaming palate offers apricot, candied tangerine zest, lemon drop, and a note of crystallized ginger. Bright acidity and a hint of thyme lift the rich flavors.
Albarino: This is a variety of white wine grape grown in Galicia (northwest Spain) and in northwest Portugal where it is used to make varietal white wines. Albariño is the Galician name for the grape; in Portugal it is known as Alvarinho. In the US, California and Oregon vintners are planting this grape, too.
Vinous 91 Points
Tasting Notes: This wine has a light chartreuse color. An assertively perfumed nose displays an array of citrus and orchard fruit scents complicated by sexy floral and mineral nuances. Sappy, penetrating and pure, this wine offers crackling lemon-lime flavors and suggestions of fresh fig and honeysuckle.
Pinot Gris/Grigio: Pinot Gris/Grigio is a white wine grape variety thought to be a clone of the Pinot Noir. It normally has a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name (gris meaning “gray” in French) but the grapes can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. Pinot Gris is grown around the globe. The expressions range from the “spicy” full-bodied Alsace, France Pinot Gris styles to the lighter-bodied, more acidic Pinot Grigio Italian styles. The Alsatian style, often duplicated in New World Wine regions such as Marlborough, New Zealand, Tasmania, South Australia and in the US in Washington and Oregon. These wines tend to have moderate to low acidity, higher alcohol levels and an almost oily texture that contributes to the full-bodied nature of the wine.
Wine Spectator 90 Points
Tasting Notes: Fresh and vibrant, this harmonious white is appealing for its apple, pear, white peach and floral flavors that don’t quit on the finish.
Falanghina: Also called Falanghina Greco, it is an ancient variety of white wine grapes used for white wines that is cultivated on the coast of Campania north of Naples. It is frequently consumed in southern Italy paired with seafood. The name for the wine appears to derive from the Latin falangae, or the name for the stakes for supporting the grapes in a vineyard. Falanghina became USA-approved for planting as a varietal in 2014.
Wine Enthusiast 90 Points
Tasting Notes: Jasmine, honeysuckle, apricot and citrus aromas open this wine. The bright, savory palate presents juicy pineapple, ripe pear, white peach and lemon zest framed in tangy acidity. Hints of Mediterranean herb add depth while a mineral note energizes the finish.
We love Chardonnay in all of its styles and expressions. Alternative white wines for summer, however, represent a whole new range of scents, flavors, body. These grapes offer new terroir (a wine sense of place) adventures. Anything But Chardonnay? Experience the new classics, and let us know about your personal wine revelation.