Doug Sloan

Are there white wine lovers on your gift list?

When it comes to receiving gifts, white wine lovers are often overlooked.  Somehow, folks who like white wines don’t get the same respect as red wine lovers.

There’s a more or less unspoken conspiracy in the wine world that only red wines are really serious.  All the attention goes to red wines.  Nobody pays too much attention to the variety and range of fine white wines.  Pity, really…

Think of picking up one or two of these excellent whites, if you want to please a white wine lover!

Known as ‘Muscat à Petits Grains’ in France, Moscato is the Italian named. Grown in the hilltop town of Asti in Piedmont, Italy, Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti (400382) $19.35/375ml is a half bottle of intense peach and apricot aromas and flavours in a gently sparkling white wine. Decidedly off-dry in style, pair this delicate white with cheesecake or crème caramel desserts.

Most commonly encountered as a blending partner with Sauvignon Blanc in most white Bordeaux as well as being the primary grape in Bordeaux’s fabled Sauternes dessert white wines, Semillon has become an Australian specialty.

The Lost Block range of Australian wines was born when an impending storm forced the Tyrrell’s vineyard crew to abandon a prized block of Hunter Valley Semillon to pick less storm resilient grapes.

A soft and approachable Hunter Valley white wine, Lost Block Semillon (550178) $22.75 overflows with aromas of limes and refreshing citrus flavours. With a few years of bottle aging, this white will develop honeyed spice and apricot flavours.  Pairs wonderfully well with fresh-shucked oysters!

Historically grown in France’s northern Rhône Valley, Viognier was quietly fading into extinction when the clever folks at Australia’s Yalumba Family Vignerons rescued it from obscurity.  Since then it has been planted extensively in North and South America.

Mission Hill Reserve Limited Edition Viognier (201731) $22.99 is an Okanagan Valley version made very much in the Australian style.  Grown in sunny Osoyoos vineyards, its difficult to imagine any white wine being more gorgeous than this honeysuckle scented mouthful of ripe peach and apricot flavours.  Pair this with spot prawns sautéed in butter and grated fresh ginger!

Native to France, Chenin Blanc has become a specialty white grown and vinified throughout South Africa.  As excellent as South African Chenin Blanc can be, the variety is still most often associated with France’s Loire Valley.

Bougrier Vouvray (60525) $22.99 is an excellent example of French Chenin Blanc at its best, off-dry with luscious aromas of mandarin oranges, peach, citrus, lanolin and pear. Under the flavours of green apple and ripe fresh-sliced pear, there are notes of lemon rind and pineapple.  Serve this beautiful white with Thai or Vietnamese dishes!

Champagne is arguably France’s best known wine.  It acquires its fascinating ‘mousse’ of tiny bubbles from refermentation in the bottle before it is released.

With a high proportion of Pinot Meunier in the blend Baron-Fuente Grande Reserve Brut Champagne (738617) $48.99 is ripe, warm and accessible. Blended from 10 per cent Pinot Noir, 30 per cent Chardonnay and 60 per cent Pinot Meunier. It offers fresh apple and ripe pear flavors framed by lemon and pink grapefruit acidity. Pair this well-priced Champagne with soft white cheeses to see its fruit flavours shine!

Raised in France’s upper Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc may have found a new home in New Zealand but California makes some exquisitely rich and tasty wines from this mouth-wateringly fresh white wine grape.

Full-bodied with a silky texture, Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc (191429) $47.99 flaunts melon and gooseberry flavors with citrus and mineral undertones. Rich and veering towards tropical fruit aromas, this California white oozes pineapple, mango, guava and grapefruit flavours.  Serve with light white seafood dishes!

California consistently produces a wide range of whites from Chardonnay grapes.  As good as they can be, none of them have the romance and cachet of white Burgundy from France.

Extraordinarily complex, Roux Pere & Fils ‘Les Marachelles’ Premier Cru Chassagne-Montrachet 2011 (659110) $100.90 sizzles with aromas and flavours of buttery vanilla, green apple, bright lemon and toasted almond and butterscotch notes. Delicious now, it will evolve into a honeyed, nutty mouthful with a year or two in the bottle.

Don`t pair this marvelous wine with anything, just sip slowly and enjoy!

 

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