2012-03-22 / Scene

Best buys of the year, part II, white wines


Dave Ethridge — VIEW Wine Columnist Dave Ethridge — VIEW Wine Columnist The situation with white wines is quite different than that of the best buys in red wines noted in our previous column. Whereas the red wine list was dominated by wines from those countries where land and labor are less expensive (namely Chile, Argentina, Portugal and Spain), the white wine list is dominated by wines from California and Washington. This is quite a change from previous years when many of these same wines were priced above our $15 limit, but now, due to over supply and price reductions they are within the Best Buy range. From the overall list of 107 white wines and 11 sparkling wines, we have selected out top ten picks and have listed where they were found and price range. This is perhaps our finest white wine list in many years due to some previously higher priced wines now in our range. And, many of them are widely available in many locations. Along with our list of top red Best Buys, this list provides for many delightful wines for your enjoyment.

Pacific Rim 2010 Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington Rieslings have taken the lead as the fastest growing segment of the white wine market. And with good reason. They are so versatile that they can be paired with just about every style and kind of food, and they come in a full range of sugar levels from the quite dry to that of very sweet. The one selected here is just slightly off-dry with a touch of sweetness on the palate but still dry enough to go well with fish or chicken, but will stand up well with more fiery cuisine like Thai or Mexican. The flavors are that of jasmine, pear and apple. The labeling is particularly interesting with a print of the mythical bird, the phoenix, rising from the ashes, printed on the underside of the back label so that it shows through the clear glass bottle to the front.

Pacific Rim also makes this wine in the Sweet Riesling category and, if you prefer sweeter wines, this is also a Best Buy of its type. $9-11 at Oxford Wines and Metamora Foodland

Estancia 2009 Chardonnay, Pinnacles Ranches, Monterey, California and Kendall-Jackson 2009 Chardonnay, California Both of these are examples of high quality Chardonnay from California that were previously priced above the $15 price range but are now being discounted as stocks are high and new vintages are in the pipeline. They are both widely distributed and available in many locations. Prices range considerably from one location to another with some retailers still retaining the higher price levels, but you should be able to find either of them in the $10-13 range at most locations. Meijer, Kroger, Oxford Wines, Lapeer Wines, Metamora Foodland, Oliver T’s, Rite-Aid, Walgreen’s, and VG’s.

Starborough 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Typically citrusy, with a grapefruit tang, this is classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Very dry and crisp, the flavors meld nicely with hors d’oeuvres or light cuisine. And it’s far below the price of many of the other Sauvignon Blanc’s from New Zealand. $13-15 at Oxford Wines, VG’s in Davison, Metamora Foodland and Meijer.

Yalumba 2010 Viognier Y Series, South Australia What a delight to find this lovely, peachy-flavored, spicy and aromatic Viognier from Australia on the list. This variety is little known but a wonderful alternative to Chardonnay with its concentrated and intense flavors. Great with dishes like Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo or other white meat cuisine. $15 at Oxford Wines

Robert Mondavi 2009 Private Selection Pinot Grigio, California All too often Pinot

Grigio’s in this price range are bland and insipid. Not this one, it has a brisk acidity and flavors of lemons, limes, green apples and honey. Just the thing to go with many appetizers and light foods. Great for a summer picnic or when relaxing on the patio this summer. $9-12 at Kroger, Meijer, Metamora Foodland and Oxford Wines

Barefoot Bubbly NV Brut Cuvee Champagne, California We don’t usually include sparkling wines on this list but since it’s a white wine and it is so good for the price we couldn’t resist. Not really a true Champagne since is comes from California but entitled to use the name by being grandfathered in by the new regulations that prohibit the name Champagne being used for wines from anywhere other than the specific region of France. Crisp, yeasty, fruity, this sparkling wine is perfect for large receptions where real Champagne would be too costly. $9-12 at Oliver T’s, VG’s, Lapeer Wines, Meijer, Rite-Aid, Metamora Foodland

Columbia Crest 2009 Grand Estates Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington Year after year this is a sensational Chardonnay, a bit more in the style of oldworld white Burgundy than those from California but perfect with fish and chicken. Not heavily oaked, but more elegant and refined and always a great buy. $10-13 at Oxford Wines, Metamora Foodland, Kroger, Meijer

Fetzer 2009 Gewurztraminer, California Spicy, floral and full of flavor, this Gewurz is perfect with Asian foods with its touch of sweetness midst all those exotic flavors. It’s rare to see this German or Alsatian variety in this price range but this one deserves our attention. $10-12 at Metamora Foodland, Meijer, Lapeer Wines, VG’s and Oxford Wines

Veramonte 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile A bit less grapefruity than the one from New Zealand and more in the style of the French Pouilly Fume’s but still crisp and full of flavor. Good with appetizers or lighter fare like chicken salad luncheons. $10-12 at Oxford Wines, Lapeer Wines and Metamora Foodland

Hogue 2010 Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington Medium sweet with touches of honey and apricot, this wine would be perfect for dessert with an apple tart or peach pie. Once again, this demonstrates the versatility of Riesling with its varied levels of sweetness. $10-13 at Lapeer Wines, VG’s, Meijer, Kroger, Oliver T’s and Oxford Wines.

There you have our top ten (actually eleven) white wine best buys for the year. It’s a great list this year. Hope you enjoy many occasions to sample the lovely white wines on this list.

Dave Ethridge is a nationally known wine writer, certified wine judge and the Director of the Lapeer Chapter of Tasters Guild International.

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