There’s more to white wine than Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Stretch your white wine horizons!

  • May. 25, 2018 9:30 a.m.

For the adventurous white wine lover, there’s more to white wine than Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc!

The Caiquén is a wild goose from Patagonia that flies across the Andes between Argentina and Chile. Just like the Caiquén, Aurelio Montes, founder of the Chilean winery Bodega Montes, made several trips across the Andes until, in 2001 he realized Mendoza was the perfect place to make Kaikén Wines.

Malbec has come to be recognized as Argentina’s signature red wine. Slowly but surely Torrontés is being recognized world-wide as Argentina’s signature white wine. Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontés (758631) $11.49 Torrontés is intensely aromatic, much like a dry Muscat. Peach and tangerine notes slide into a dry finish of fresh crushed green grapes.

Jidvei is the most famous Romanian producer of premium dry and medium dry white wines. Native to Romania, Feteasca Alba is a white clone of the indigenous variety Feteasca neagra originating in Moldova. Feteasca Alba Jidvei Sec (410845) $12.49 might be mistaken for dry Riesling crossed with an unoaked Chardonnay. Lemon, lime, peach and apricot flavours sizzle in every sip of this unusual dry white.

Catarratto is the most widely planted white wine grape variety in Sicily responsible for 34 per cent of the total vineyard area in Sicily. Recent DNA testing has shown that it is an offspring of the Garganega grape, which is primarily grown in the northern part of the Italian mainland in the Veneto region.

Mare Magnum Crudo Catarratto Zibibbo (629055) $17.99 has green grape aromas over mango pineapple, elderflower with a subtle twist of saltiness and orange rind and fresh grape flavours and a sassy finish. Almost off-dry, it is a surprisingly full-bodied white and decidedly more-ish…

Albariño was introduced to Uruguay in 1954 by immigrants from La Coruña, in the Galician region of Spain. In the late 1980s, Uruguay took steps to increase the quality of its wines and stepped up its marketing efforts to compete with Chilean wines and Argentine wines, which had lower production costs.

Unlike similar wines from Portugal or Spain – more of a tropical fruit medley – Garzón Albariño Reserva (+18265) $24.99 exudes aromas of candied lemon rind, mango and pineapple. Tropical fruit flavours slide over the tongue on first sip before the underlying chalky minerality asserts the dry character of this intriguing white. Then that tropical fruit echoes into the aftertaste!

Here in British Columbia a few winemakers have been exploring the possibilities of Muscat. Despite the diversity in the Muscat family – Ottonel, Petit Grains, Alexandria, Giallo – one common trait that can be seen in most all Muscat members is the characteristic floral, ‘grapey’ aroma note that is caused by the high concentration of monoterpenes in these grapes.

The Muscat grape is the world’s oldest known grape variety. It likely originated in Greece but maybe – just maybe? – it came from Muscat, the capital and largest city in the Governorate of Oman in the south-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

Whistle clean and rapier sharp, Joie Farm ‘The Pure Grape’ Muscat (167239) $24.35 comes from 2 acres of estate grown Moscato Giallo – the Italian version of this chameleon of a grape – aka Yellow Muscat. High-toned apple blossom and peach aromatics make this white smell much sweeter than it tastes. Thrillingly juicy citric acidity gets the mouth watering wildly on every sip – lemon, lime and grapefruit notes just keep on coming.

Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier are the primary white wine grapes of the northern Rhône valley. Any combination of these with Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanc and Bourbolenc, in any proportions, would qualify a white wine for inclusion in Saint-Joseph AOP – aka: AOC – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée.

Ferraton Pere & Fils ‘La Source’ Saint-Joseph AOC (870030) $38.99 is a gorgeously ripe and perfectly balanced white wine made from 100 per cent Marsanne. From vines grown in granite soil, the grapes for this white are fermented by their own indigenous, natural yeasts. Luscious citric flavours dominate – lemon curd, candied tangerine rind – and swirl into a mouthful of sun-baked rocky honeysuckle.

Local wine lovers may find some of these wines being poured at the Campbell River Daybreak Rotary Wine & Blues Fest on June 9 at the Maritime Heritage Centre. Tickets are already available from the Tidemark Theatre. Get yours soon!

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