I always giggle a bit when I am looking at a wine list and get to the section called “interesting white.” There is usually a Grüner Veltliner included, maybe an interesting grape from Greece or Lebanon like an Assyrtiko from Santorini, perhaps a Vermentino from Sardinia.
I personally think every wine is interesting, even if it is a familiar varietal, if it is made in a place or with a style that is not so familiar. Here are a few interesting whites that are both flavorful and approachable. Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.
I was at Veritas the other evening and tried a new white they had just added to their by the glass list, St. Cosme Little James Basket Press blend of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. From the Rhone region of France this is not the most common blend, but this vibrant, aromatic, refreshing wine blends these two varietals flawlessly creating aromas of lemon peel, ripe melon and peach with citrus, honeydew and a slight herbaceous flavor on the palate. It was such a big seller over the weekend they were out last night, but promised to have more in later this week.
2010 Terra Gauda Albarino Abadia de San Campio strives to be a representation of classic Spanish Albarino grown in traditional ways in high elevations with cool temperatures, low humidity and a long growing season. Some Albarino can be overwhelmingly acidic, this one is subtle with notes of Asian pear and golden apple with orange blossom and pineapple, followed by apple, white peach and lemon zest on the palate.
2009 Foppiano Estate Sauvignon Blanc comes from an area most commonly known for Chardonnay instead of Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley. Only about 14 acres of the 160 acre Foppiano Estate are planted withSauvignon Blanc, all of which are in the higher elevations of the Estate so the vines can get lots of sun light to help them develop. Completely dry farmed, whole cluster pressed and cold fermented the wine is not the typical California Sauvignon Blanc, as this displays more grassy, green and floral notes vs. big, overpowering citrus aromas, but maintains solid acidity with great ability to pair with anything from a creamy goat cheese to fresh shellfish and seafood.
2008 Yarden Chardonnay from Golan Heights Winery in the mountains of Galilee, Israel is an expressive Chardonnay grown in one of the coldest and highest elevations in Israel with little rainfall. This Chardonnay seams to thrive from these conditions as year after year Yarden creates an easy drinking wine filled with wild flowers, pear, green apple and honeysuckle.
Patz & Hall 2009 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay from Carneros in Napa Valley is a spectacular wine from a 4 block vineyard in the cool area of Carneros perfect for growing Chardonnay that was purchased by Lee Hudson in the 1980s to keep it from becoming a condominium. Whole cluster pressed, 100% indigenous wild yeast fermentation, bottled without filtration, this is a big wine filled with peaches and cream, cinnamon and baked apple pie aromas. Medium bodied with stone fruit and caramel on the palate ending in a long finish.
Perhaps the most interesting white I have had recently came from Domaine Serene, their barrel fermented white wine from 100% estate Pinot Noir grapes, Coeur Blanc. This is such an amazing wine that tastes a bit like a Pinot Noir if you close your eyes, but with a cool, refreshing rose type mouthfeel. Strawberry, raspberry and citrus on the nose with marzipan, berry and minerality the palate. Certainly unique, interesting and very special.