Enjoying the Adventure, Relishing the Journey: Exploring the World of Alternate Whites

White wineTo drink wine is to become an explorer. The enjoyment of it sets the entire world before you in all its geographical, cultural, meteorological, geological, creative and philosophical glory. To begin the journey you can start anywhere, and with open heart and mind there is no end to the adventure before you. You raise a glass to your lips and let it take you where it will.

My own journey began with red wine, and for many years that was the soul and center of my wine enjoyment. Lately however, I began to enjoy the whites more than ever before. Is it because I now live in Florida where the climate and the fact that a good deal of life is lived outdoors seem conducive to savoring white wine? Or does it run deeper? Perhaps as I advance in years and wisdom I find less need to be overly serious and aggressive (and red wine can sometimes be characterized as ‘serious’ and ‘aggressive’). Perhaps now I can occasionally sit back and enjoy the ride and allow the key words to become ‘delight’ and ‘elegance’ and even ‘fun’ – words that often characterize white wine.

But let’s stop philosophizing and just permit me to mention a few delicious white wines from around the world that I have enjoyed recently and which will dance and sizzle in your brain throughout the spring and summer months:

Querciarossa Fonte delle Serpi Maremma Vermentino – Once quoted as being the “thinking man’s Pinot Grigio,” Vermentino has become so much more! Fresh and elegant, the wine is dry with nice minerality and bursting with intense fruit. Vermentino is produced in various places within Italy but this one, situated between Magliano and the Talamone Sea in the gorgeous Tuscan region of Maremma, is a stand out.

Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc – A real bargain from the South of France, this is a blend of Ugni-Blanc, Columbard, Chardonnay, Gros-Petit Manseng, Folle Blanche and Sauvignon Blanc. It offers aromas of mango, passion fruit, lychee and white flowers, makes an excellent aperitif and pairs well with cheese, shellfish, picnic fare and white meats. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of some of the grapes – they’re local and have grown in the area for centuries, and what’s more they’re delicious!

Jules Taylor Grüner Veltliner – A difficult Austrian grape to pronounce (Jules just calls it Gru-Vee), this wine comes from the Wairau and Awatere valleys in Marlborough, New Zealand. It was an attempt to “see if there’s life after Sauvignon Blanc” there. With stone fruit and apple blossom aromas and a delightful, soft acidity, the good news is that there is!

Ca’ Momi Bianco di Napa – A Napa Valley wine for less than $10? Yes, and it is delicious! A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Viognier, this crisp, intense and aromatic wine offers aromas of jasmine, mango, lychee and honeysuckle. The perfect picnic wine and a steal at this price.

Tormentoso Old Vine Chenin Blanc – Chenin Blanc may well be one of the first grapes introduced into South Africa in 1655. It is now the most widely planted variety in that beautiful country and one of its principle claims to fame. Ripe peach and apricot aromas give way to a full-bodied, fruity flavor with good acidity and a hint of minerality. The Chenin Blanc wines of South Africa are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

So there you go – just a few suggestions of wines with which you can begin or continue your vinous journey. Hope you enjoy the adventure!

Bill Stobbs, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor

Follow me on Twitter @abcwinebills

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