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Louies Wine Dive

Louie's Wine Club
 
October 1, 2018 | Grape & Regions | Louie's Wine Club

Superstar Varietals - White

Some grapes are famous, some are underappreciated but play a big part in the blends you may know and love. Regardless, these white wine grapes are stars.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is the most widely distributed white wine grape in the world. It's extremely adaptable and shows wide variety of flavors to match the wide range of climates and soils where it grows. While many know Chardonnay for oak and buttery flavors, that is the result of style choices made by winemakers, not characteristics of the grape itself.

Origin: Burgundy, France
Notable growing regions: Chablis, Mersault, Côte de Beaune, Champagne, California, Australia
Preferred growing conditions: grown everywhere but is best in temperate to cool climates
Body: medium to full
Acidity: Low to medium depending on style
Aging: Almost always aged in oak
 

Characteristics: Old World tends toward green apples, citrus, nuts, and minerals, while New World often shows pears, apple pie, pineapple, and butter vanilla spice, but the lines are blurring as winemakers experiment with their grapes and terroir.

Basic Food Pairings: smoked salmon, roasted turkey, provolone, spicy Chinese food

Fun fact - Chardonnay was the other wine varietal that helped put California onto the world stage at The Judgment of Paris in 1976.

 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc may be one of the more versatile white varietals out there. A drier white wine with herbaceous and fruity qualities, it is sometimes known as Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre, after the wine-growing regions of France, Fumé Blanc when produced in California in a French style, and features in White Bordeaux blends with Sémillon grapes and in the famed dessert wine, Sauternes.

Origin: disputed Bordeaux or Loire Valley 
Notable growing regions: Loire (Sancerre & Pouilly-Fumé), California, New Zealand, Chile
Preferred growing conditions: temperate to cool climates
Body: light to medium
Acidity: medium to high
Aging: can be aged in oak or stainless steel. Most French winemakers prefer no oak aging.
 
 

Characteristics: grapefruit, gooseberries, freshly cut green grass, herbs, tropical fruits (mango, peach, melon)

Basic Food pairings: asparagus, tomatoes, curries, goat cheese, aged cheeses

Fun fact - Sauvignon Blanc means "wild white" which refers to its ability to thrive like a weed. Sauvignon Blanc was crossed with Cabernet grapes in the 1800s to form, you guessed it, Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Riesling

Riesling originated in the Rhine wine region of Germany near the French border. German nobles as far back as 1435 recognized the potential for aging and stockpiled cases in their cellars. Younger Rieslings will have notes ranging from tart lemon to ripened pineapple, with secondary flavors of honeycomb or flower blossoms. Aged Rieslings are said to have hints of petrol among the flavor profiles, and this trait is one of the most sought after among wine collectors and fans of Riesling.

Origin: Rhine, Germany
Notable growing regions: Germany, Alsace, Australia & New Zealand, South Africa, Washington
Preferred growing conditions: cool & cold climates
Body: ranges from very light when made in a dry style to thick & syrupy when made into super ripe dessert wine
Acidity: very very high
Aging: almost always in stainless & should not bear characteristics of oak
 
 

Characteristics: Very effectively translates terroir. Younger Rieslings tend to be floral while aged Rieslings tend to show petrol & honey. Apricot, pineapple, pear, and lemons & limes.

Basic Food Pairings: spicy ethnic foods, Edam, Swiss, and Gouda cheeses, lightly sweetened fruit desserts

Fun fact - The ancestor of modern Riesling was eventually bred into Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc as well.

 

Albariño: White variety from northwest Spain. (Also called Alvarinho in Portugul) Produces light-bodied, fruit-forward dry wine. (Best examples are from Rias Baixas)

Chenin Blanc: This grape originated in the Loire Valley & produces slightly sweet wine with melon, red apple, & tropical fruit notes. The best examples come from Vouvray and Savennières.  The top producers in the world are in South Africa where the grape is often called “Steen”

Gewürztraminer: A very aromatic grape predominantly grown in Germany & the Alsace region of France that is gaining ground in California & Washington states.  This grape is spicy & perfumed with flavors reminiscent of lychee fruit, white pepper & rose petals.

Grüner Veltliner: This is the most important grape of Austria.  It produces light, dry wine with notes of lime zest & white pepper.

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