White wines make great gifts!

  • Nov. 30, 2017 4:30 p.m.

When it comes to receiving gifts, white wine lovers are routinely 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.

In these politically uber-correct times, it is almost discriminatory… Of course the upside of that systematic disrespect is that fabulous white wines can be had for a fraction of the price of fabulous red wines!

Just south of Summerland in the Okanagan Valley, Thornhaven Estates Winery sits on the flank of Little Giant’s Head Mountain overlooking Okanagan Lake. Their Thornhaven Estates Pinot Gris (37325) $16.49 is an amazingly endowed serious fruit salad of a white wine – apple, lemon rind, mandarin orange, mango, pineapple aromas and flavours captivate the senses. Outstandingly rich!

With Italian wines, most of us think of Chianti from Tuscany, Merlot from Veneto or Sangiovese blends from almost every Italian wine region… and they are all red wines. Although there are excellent Italian white wines available, they just don’t get much respect.

An amazingly tasty Italian white Monte del Fra Custoza Superiore DOC (263814) $21.49 is an incredibly complex blend of mostly indigenous Italian wine grapes that finished up at 13 per cent alc/vol. The result is an astonishingly full-bodied dry white that overflows with ripe peach flavours over honeyed lemon drops with a dusting of chalk underlying the more obvious and tantalizingly tropical fruit.

Most widely planted in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Grüner Veltliner is a relatively obscure wine grape that has also been planted in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and even here in British Columbia.

From Kamptal, overlooking the Danube, one of the most prestigious Austrian wine regions, Hiedler Grüner Veltliner Löss (750778) $22.99 is a renowned example of what this white wine can show. Crisp bright lemon and grapefruit notes lead into apple, melon and apricot with a twist of anise leading into the characteristic finish of white pepper.

In the semi-rural reaches of southeast Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, Spierhead Winery sits in the Gentleman Framer Vineyard. While most of the property is planted to a variety of clones of Pinot Noir – which is the winery’s current focus – excellent Chardonnay grapes are also grown.

From the Saddle Block in the Gentleman Farmer Vineyard Spierhead Chardonnay (834382) $24.79 is a gift that would please any white wine lover. The ripe tropical mango and pineapple flavours that virtually jump out of the glass at first sip give way to classic notes of pears, lemon and buttery vanilla.

France’s Burgundy is the spiritual home of Chardonnay, the world’s most widely planted white wine grape and is currently believed to be an ancient crossing of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc that likely occurred naturally in French vineyards centuries ago.

The satellite region of Chablis sits apart from the rest of Burgundy, northwest of Dijon. Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons (190702) $49.99 is bright, tart lemon and green apple on first sip. As it warms on the tongue notes of pear and peaches slide into a chalky, almost salty finish. This is a classic and traditional Chablis, elegant and unoaked.

It would be remiss to put together a list of exceptional white wines without including a Sauvignon Blanc. Rather than featuring a racy Sancerre from France’s the Loire valley or one of numerous and highly respected wines from New Zealand, let’s look at a fine California version.

Made from grapes sourced from four different vineyards in the Napa Valley and two vineyards on Sonoma Mountain, Spottswoode Estate Sauvignon Blanc (747212) $55.49 flaunts ripe round flavours of apricot, peach, nectarine, mango and guava. With 35 per cent of the wine kissed by French oak, there is a sweet thread of vanilla underpinning the rich fruit notes.

No need to pair these wines with fish, ham of chicken dishes – they are excellent sipped solo. So, if there is a white wine lover on your gift list, surprise them with one of these exciting and exceptional white wines.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com

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