White wines for gift giving…

Wine lovers who prefer white wines don’t get a lot of respect. Sad but still true…

But there are plenty of options if you’re looking for as gift for your friend who loves white wine. If you know what they like – Italian? French? California? Chardonnay? Sauvignon Blanc? – think about gifting something similar but maybe a couple of bucks more than what they usually pay.

White wines are generally less expensive than reds of ‘comparable’ quality. When those whites come from South America, the quality to price bang-for-the-buck ratio can be ridiculously skewed.

From Argentina, routinely scored 89-91pts by the wine cognoscenti, Alamos Chardonnay $15.49 is full bodied and mouth-filling. This is a rich white that opens with apple and pear before moving into mango and pineapple with toasty caramel notes and a sprinkling of cloves over the clean citric finish.

More about subtlety than strength, white wine simply is not taken as seriously as red wine. Sometimes wine lovers want a clean crisp white that is just refreshing to sip solo or pair with lighter food like fish or chicken.

Wines from obscure regions often offer exceptional value. When they are made from indigenous varieties of grapes that are unknown outside of their local region, the bang-for-the-buck ratio can be extraordinary.

From the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, Jako Vino’s Stina Cuvée White $19.99 is a blend of 70 per cent Posip, 20 per cent Yugava and 10 per cent Chardonnay. Think Pinot Grigio blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling finished with a splash of seriously ripe Chardonnay. And you can be reasonably sure the wine loving friend you’re gifting will never have tasted this before…

Less likely to be fermented in costly oak and likely to be aged for a much shorter period of time in expensive oak barrels, white wines are typically less expensive than ‘comparable’ red wines. Despite that calculation, there are some well and thoughtfully oaked white wines.

A Spanish white that is deliberately oaked rather than traditionally, rustically oxidized, Altos ‘R’ Blanco $20.99 from Altos de Rioja is a blend of sassy early picked Viura and riper late harvested Viura showing bright apple and pear notes blended with ultra-ripe barrel-fermented honeyed melon and mango Malvasia. Great ‘weight’ for a fully fruited white, this is the kind of gift white wine that you buy more than one of … so that you can enjoy it yourself, too!

White wines, as a general rule, don’t age as well or as long as red wines. The second great white wine grape of Bordeaux – after Sauvignon Blanc – is Semillon. Usually blended in Bordeaux, on its own Semillon makes fascinating aged white wines in Australia.

Unoaked, released after 5 years of bottle aging Peter Lehman Masters Margaret Semillon 2010 $24.99 has evolved past wooly, lemony acidity to a toasty mouthful of dry white with a spritz of honey, nutty almond and subtly herbal savoury notes in the finish – bashfully basil, almost anise?

More than 400 different types of wine grapes have been recognized in Italy. The most highly respected Italian wines are red – Amarone, Barolo and Brunello lead the pack. But buoyed by a sea of Pinot Grigio and tankers full of Prosecco, more than 55 per cent of the wine Italy grows is white.

An unusual Italian white, Schiopetto Collio Friulano $46.99 is crafted entirely from Sauvignon Vert vines, full bodied relatives of Sauvignon Blanc – which were known as Tocai Friulano until labelling prohibitions intervened in 2008. Ripe pear and apricot aromas set the stage for honeyed lemon, peach and creamy almond flavours in this headily floral, spicy white wine.

Don’t overlook your white wine loving friends. They would love any of these!

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com

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