You won’t find Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio on this list. Still, the following four white wine varieties are worth some serious praise.
White wine definitely seems like an afterthought in the wine world.
For whatever reason, white wines don’t command the same prices or prestige as their red wine counterparts. Still, they are equally challenging to grow and to make.
Ironically, this is good news for white wine enthusiasts. It means there are incredible, collectible white wines at great values!
In this tasting, we try four unique and undervalued white wines from four regions you ought to know more about.
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- Dry Furmint from Hungary
- Sémillon from Hunter Valley
- Alsatian Pinot Blanc
- Viognier from Oregon
Not many westerners know of the Tokaj region in Hungary (sounds like “toe-kye”). Tokaj was the first official classified wine region in the world (classified in 1730 and officiated by noble decree in 1757).
Back in the 18th Century, the world was obsessed with sweet white wines and this is exactly what Tokaj is all about.
Today, the Tokaj region still makes a great deal of sweet wine but many up-and-coming producers are trying their hand at dry wines.
The major grape, Furmint, has incredibly high acidity and balanced sweet-savory flavors. Furmint has the pedigree to age for decades.
Hunter Valley Sémillon
The first vineyards in Australia were planted in Hunter Valley. Sémillon first arrived in this warm, humid region in 1831 among James Busby’s 20,000 grape cuttings (the father of Aussie wine!).
While it doesn’t seem possible to grow Sémillon here, the Australian innovative spirit has not only found a way, but in doing so, has made something incredible.
Hunter Valley Sémillon has the potential to age decades and develop rich, honeyed flavors with subtle nutty-straw character over time. They do it by picking grapes early and fermenting as cool and clean as possible. The end result is a lean, green, mineral machine that slowly opens up the longer you age it.
At 10–11% ABV, they are some of the lowest alcohol whites you can find.
Alsace is very unlike the rest of France. It sits in the Rhine River Valley, which leads into Germany (and right into the German Pfalz region!).
Thus, the winemaking traditions here are much more German-influenced. This is why you’ll find a great deal of white wine varieties like Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc here.
Still, the French have a unique spin on the wine. Instead of making a sweet Riesling (which was traditionally the choice in Germany) they make it dry.
Alsace might just be France’s white wine secret.
Oregon White Wines
Most of us look to Oregon for Pinot Noir. However, white wines are very important (and delicious) here. Beyond Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, you’ll find a milieu of varieties from which to choose: From Arneis to Viognier.
Oregon is definitely a hot spot for cool whites and worth investigating further.