Crisp White Wines from Places You’d Never Expect

While most people are familiar with mainstay regions for crisp white wines—think Sancerre or Vinho Verde—producers are planting white varieties in places you’d never expect. Here are four regions to keep your eyes on.
Freshly harvested Albariño / Getty

Wine drinkers are familiar with famous powerhouse regions that produce crisp white wines, like New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc, or Chablis. But equally refreshing whites are also produced in unlikely places. From Napa Valley Albariño to Willamette Pinot Gris and Beaujolais Blanc, these are the places and bottles you should look to this spring to up your white wine game.

Recommended Offbeat White Wine Regions

Napa

Donkey & Goat 2016 Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay (Napa Valley); $32, 94 points. This vineyard is in the West Oak Knoll area of the valley. The wine was left unfined and unfiltered by the winemakers, who employ native yeast for fermentation. Juicy stone fruit and zippy acidity strike a chord of balance and complexity that’s low in oak and deliciously crisp in peach. —Virginie Boone

Peter Franus 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley); $26, 93 points. From the Stewart Vineyard in Carneros, planted with the Musqué clone, this white is spicy and sublimely textured, with a persistence of mineral mystique and balanced ripeness. Its well-crafted fruitiness is a mix of white peach and lime. —V.B.

Hendry 2016 Hendry Vineyard Albariño (Napa Valley); $22, 92 points. Fermented in stainless steel, this is a dry, crisp expression of the variety from the southern ends of the appellation. Flinty and stony in minerality, it offers lasting acidity that refreshes alongside a distinct green-apple note. —V.B.

S.R. Tonella 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Rutherford); $30, 92 points. Quince and grapefruit flavors rise to the top of the palate in this well-made estate wine, aged in a mix of French oak, Acacia and stainless steel. While smooth and round in feel, its acidity has impact, providing stony refreshment around a lingering white peach flavor. —V.B.

Oberon 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley); $18, 88 points. Dried herb and a twist of lemongrass provide an exotic edge to this light white, which is moderate in acidity and fruity in melon and kiwi. The freshness persists with ease on the finish. —V.B.

The Curious Story of White Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley / Getty
Willamette Valley / Getty

Willamette

Z’IVO 2013 Pinot Blanc (Eola-Amity Hills); $30, 92 points. Z’IVO’s Pinot Blanc is an obscure clone called Gouges, after the Burgundy winery that first isolated it. It’s exceptionally dense, textural and racy, with scents and mouthfeel close to Chablis, with the same underlying minerality. Oyster shells and sea-breeze accents come with tart melon fruit and a touch of lime zest. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt

De Ponte Cellars 2015 D.F.B. Melon de Bourgogne (Dundee Hills); $25, 91 points. This lush and lovely wine, a New World version of Muscadet, is tangy and loaded with bright apple and pear flavors. Amplified by hints of citrus rind, it opens up even further once it warms in the glass, showing unexpected and quite impressive depth and detail. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

Helioterra 2016 Pinot Blanc (Willamette Valley); $18, 91 points. The best of an outstanding white wine lineup, this enters the palate with the clarity of a mountain lake. The clean and crisp fruit flavors of melon and white peach gently pull in accents of butter and caramel, without any single component dominating. It’s very fine winemaking. Editors’ Choice. —P.G.

King Estate 2016 Backbone Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley); $27, 91 points. Young, big and pleasantly chunky, this flavorful wine is loaded with green apple, tart melon and enough acidity to conjure up gooseberries. Enjoy it now for its exceptional fruit and freshness. —P.G.

Winter’s Hill 2016 Pinot Gris (Dundee Hills); $19, 89 points. The winery makes a trio of Pinot Gris, this one fermented entirely in stainless steel. It’s clean and fresh, mountain spring over rock, with green apple and jicama fruit. There’s a tension to it, and it’s well-defined and taut through the finish. —P.G.

Valle de Elqui, Chile / Getty
Valle de Elqui, Chile / Getty

Chile

Undurraga 2017 Sibaris Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Leyda Valley); $17, 88 points. Light green-fruit aromas are tight and show a hint of dusty yeast. This has a lean, citric mouthfeel with acidic tang. Oily citrus flavors come with a sprinkle of salt, while this shows both body and length on the finish. —Michael Schachner

Dancing Flame 2017 Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Leyda Valley); $9, 87 points. Dancing Flame is a value-priced line from Luis Felipe Edwards, and this Leyda Sauvignon Blanc delivers punchy aromas that mix citrus notes with green ones. A fresh palate with lime and green-herb flavors loses concentration on the finish. Best Buy. —M.S.

Prisma 2016 Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley); $12, 87 points. Prickly single-plane aromas of grass and citrus fruits set up a lean tight palate that’s pushing lemon-lime and grassy herbal flavors. A lasting finish with acidity and spunk earns this some extra points. Drink now. Best Buy. —M.S.

Rafael Tirado Wines 2017 Laberinto Sauvignon Blanc (Maule Valley); $20, 87 points. A hot 2017 with forest fires in many parts of Chile forced early picking, and seemingly this shear high-acid SB with just 12.3% alcohol was part of that. Spunky sharp flavors of briny citrus fruits include pyrazine-based notes of green herbs, while this ends with a high-acid finish. —M.S.

Santa Rita 2017 Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (Casablanca Valley); $13, 87 points. Snappy citrus aromas show mild pyrazine-based scents on a typical Casablanca nose. A standard palate is a touch watery, while this tastes of mild citrus fruits and green melon. A briny tasting finish is low on volume and length. —M.S.

Vineyards at sunset, Beaujolais / Getty
Vineyards at sunset, Beaujolais / Getty

Beaujolais Blanc

Domaine du Penlois 2016 du Châtelard (Beaujolais Blanc); $20, 89 points. This is a ripe, creamy and already delicious wine. Refreshing acidity pairs with a zesty character to provide both minerality and great fruitiness. The wine needs to age a few more months, and will be just right from mid-2018. —Roger Voss

Domaine Bertrand 2016 Beaujolais Blanc; $16, 88 points. A small parcel of Chardonnay has produced this attractively soft and creamy wine. With its apple-purée and citrus flavors easily coming together, this perfumed wine is light, bright and crisp at the end. Drink now. —R.V.

Domaine de la Prébende 2016 Beaujolais Blanc; $19, 88 points. This ripe and fruity wine has rich yellow and white-fruit flavors that are full and refreshing. Zingy orange zest adds bite to the soft, generous texture. It is ready to drink. —R.V.

Florent Descombe 2016 Cuvée B (Beaujolais Blanc); $40, 88 points. This soft, creamy wine is full of apple and bright citrus flavors. Good concentration along with a tangy, orange texture give a crisp edge to this already delicious wine. Drink now. —R.V.

Domaine de la Combe au Loup 2016 Beaujolais Blanc; $18, 87 points. A two-acre vineyard of the estate planted with Chardonnay gives this fruity, crisp wine. Offering flavors of citrus and green apple, it is bright, light and ready to drink. —R.V.

Published on March 21, 2018
Topics: White Wine



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