Unexpected Blancs

Blanc, blanco, straight-up white… there are so many beautiful white wines. Although I still don’t completely understand why we don’t call them yellow, silver-green or gold, but ugh, I didn’t make the rules. The white wines go around. Before I go on, allow me to get on my white wine soap box. I’ve encountered my share of red wine devotees who think of white wines as “intro to drinking wine” fare. And if I am honest about my own path, the first wines I was excited by were the super fresh whites. I loved an unoaked Chardonnay or a super-fresh Sauvignon Blanc and still do. But then as I tasted more and more, my palate expanded at a supernatural rate, taking me from sipping Chablis to abusing (in a glorious way) my gums with Aglianico. But I still liked whites. And I started to notice that a lot of wine lovers seemed to think that white wines were not as serious as reds. That pissed me off then and quite frankly, still annoys the fill-in-the-expletive out of me. Many wine connoisseurs go through a phase of “reds only”. I literally had a podcast guest, a famous comedy writer/actor, who before we opened a beautiful Arneis and schooled him on its beauty proclaimed. “I used to like white wines, but I GRADUATED.” At which we laughed. Poor soul, missing out on whites as exciting, textured and nuanced as they can be. The purpose of this is to open your mind to exquisite white wines from places known for reds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still team My Kingdom for Barolo but I’m also obsessed with the Piemonte’s regional whites. Please enjoy my exploration of red region whites and beyond. Even if you are devoted to red wine, I think there may be something here to spark your interest OR conversely, to ease a white wine lover into a red-renowned region. Let us begin at the beginning: BORDEAUX BLANC Everyone swoons for those Cab and Merlot-based wines, but you guyssssss the whites, frequently embellished with judicious oak…they are fun. The main Bordeaux white grapes are Semillon , Sauvignon Blanc and (perhaps) some Muscadelle . Try 'em. 2021 Maison Blanche Bordeaux Blanc Freshy, fresh mcfresherstein! Smells like freshly shelled spring peas and sunshine hay. The palate brings surprisingly more body and silky vibes. Offers a punchy note on the nose, then the mid-feel is charming. It finishes zingy, a touch sour. All fun. 2019 Clos Floridene Graves The spectacular thing to me is hiding underneath the ripe, ripppppe mandarin, fresh-cut grass and treacle nose. Beyond the ripe peach and lemon-mandarin orange-honeysuckle palate. Lurking beneath it all is the idiosyncratic pencil lead/friendly ashtray minerality grit–not gritty–grit. It’s an oomph that declares I AM BORDEAUX. It is omnipresent in most reds but sometimes skips out on the whites, but here it is. With graceful girth. There’s just a hint of muscularity and bite beneath the voluptuous fruit-forward body. Really a tremendous wine. -- RIOJA Oh sweet Rioja, love you and your blend-tastic, extra-intense aging regimens. Everyone revels in the Tempranillo-heavy blends, but the whites can be exceptional. Based on Viura , which in other regions is known as Macabeo , they can be good to drink now and later, without notes of Now and Laters. 2021 Bodegas Muga Blanco It is fun, fresh, and just a touch funky. I get lightly spiced pear, vanilla and chill mellow lemon on the nose. It gets a bit floral and incense-y on the palate. There’s an interesting balance of being light as air with spice adding theoretical weight in spirit if not in body. Super cool. 2021 Bodegas Muriel Blanco A gentle but invigorating glass. It brings smooth, ripe pear and white flower essences to the nose and palate. The acid feels solidly medium, not overwhelming if you happen to be acid-sensitive (I’m not and it’s a downfall of mine when blind-tasting). There is almost a smooth lactic character on the finish. Overall, just pleasant in the glass as well as pleasant on the pocketbook winner. -- PIEDMONT I know, I know, and I am here for the Nebbiolo be it Barolo or Ghemme , Barbaresco or Roero . And we all love Barberas, from Alba to Asti . Not to mention Dolcetto . But there is an incredibly diverse and delightful range of whites to dive into: Cortese , Arneis , and Timorasso are at the top of my hit list. Oh yes, and Moscato makes fun things too. Oh shoot, and right before publishing realizing I forgot to bring Favorita (Vermentino) and Erbaluce into the convo. Look for them too my sweets—in the meantime, the egregiously neglected, try the neglected Arneis, Cortese and Timorasso! 2021 Matteo Corregia Roero Arneis Arneis means “rascal”—did ya know? This one is super fun. It has strong citrus, juicy green apple vibes grounded with major minerality and texture. And then there is something tangy too, almost tamarind-esque. It brings starched linen energy both in texture and flavor. If it were a piece of clothing it would be a full-on tennis outfit complete with a sweater knotted on the shoulders. Bright as a sunny day. Give it some time, and it brings sunflowers and orange flower water too. Really an over-performer. 2021 Luca Bosio Cortese di Gavi Totally sharp and sweet (but dry) fruit salad. There’s white peach, kiwi, melon and maybe even a tangelo or pineapple all going down, with a hint of ginger root. Super crisp acidity and tingly with a mellifluously smooth body, what a dance partner. Finishes slightly spicy and saline. Fun fun fun. 2021 La Spinetta Colli Tortonesi Derthona Timorasso Timorasso is that magic grape that produces muscular but elegant wines. They can lift you up and take you down and do it with grace. The palate brings prickly acidity balanced by a plush stone-fruited palate. All that glides into a slate-y, citrus-accented finish. I’m mad about Timorasso, which when I was first sold on it, was described to me as “broad-shouldered but light on its toes.” It’s true. In the hands of the venerable La Spinetta, all the more so. -- RHÔNE OMG, the Rhône runs rampant with chill white options. And yet a lot of people don’t consider it outside of the reds. The ironic thing is that the reds people know the Rhône for sometimes also make exquisite whites: Châteauneuf-du-Pape , Hermitage , Côtes du Rhône …they all come in blanc baby. The one white people may think of, Condrieu , that Viognier stalwart deserves a thought too. Beyond Viognier, some of my favorite white wines anywhere are made of Roussanne , a variety frequently in blends here, but it shines wherever it is. 2022 Château Pesquié Ventoux Les Terrasses Blanc 25% Viognier, 25% Roussance, 25% Clairette, 25% Grenache Blanc From the Ventoux subregion! It’s exciting and up-n-coming. It only “recently” was upgraded to AOC status—2009 is recent for a subregion that pioneered AOC wines. With limestone soils and high elevation, it is churning out some exciting whites, this one amongst them. Shows a super peppy nose with citrus and perfumed floral/incense notes. The palate is light but full and ultra-zesty. In many senses, there’s a ton of lemon, lime and tangerine rind elements along with white pepper hints, and then there’s that nutmeg and mineral component hanging out. Ridiculously fun in the glass. 2020 Domaine Rousset Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 85% Marsanne, 15% Roussanne Golden and gracious, this is certainly a red wine drinker’s white. It has a FULL body that finishes long. There are oodles of pear and white grapefruit notes and just a touch of herbal tea. Maybe even some chamomile to it? It’s all textured like fine linen. If I am being honest, I think I’m getting notes of linen on it, too, in terms of aromas. 2020 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Condrieu Les Cassines There is uplifting acidity going here. It’s a lightweight, Chartreuse silk peasant blouse, says my wine/clothing synesthesia. The nose is charming and coy. It giveth ripe quince, it giveth subtle bitter nuts and lanolin...okay so it doesn’t taketh away, but it is not bombastic. On the palate, you get all that and a bag of, well it’s a mixed bag, including musk, overripe honeydew, white roses and irises, and hints of oak and cream. It’s damn delicious. In a blind tasting, I’d think…well gosh I’d be torn between a lot of things, so I better commit this to memory so next time I get this amalgamation (MW, I’m coming for you next year) I get it right. -- AUSTRALIA The Australian Rieslings, largely out of Clare Valley and Eden Valley sing in a really unique way. Not reviewed here, but the country’s Semillons from Hunter Valley are a real treat, and there are reviews of some excellent Chardonnay and Viognier in my recent piece on women winemakers. It’s a whole dang continent with way more than just Shiraz! Here are a couple of Rieslings to get you going: 2021 Jim Barry Watervale Riesling Very pure, very crisp, but luxuriously ripe on the nose. Sweet grapefruit, honeysuckle, mineral nose. Still citrus on the palate, a bit of petrol and a bunch of linens and lemon. It finishes with a little bitter almond, and there’s almost a hint of…agave? Or is it those lime-y notes making me think of a margarita? Maybe, but I’ve been sipping tequila neat here and there more frequently of late, and I’m inclined to say it’s both. It’s really cool. Good stuff. Solid. 2015 Pewsey Vale Museum Reserve The Contours Riesling Gives major petrol vibes on the very generous nose. Hiding behind it is a plethora of citrus and wet stone. The palate is vibrantly youthful at eight years old. Light but has gravitas. Zippy but textured. Brings in ripe honeydew and underripe white peach on the palate. Finishes honeysuckle-y. -- SHOWER WHITE? I am taking Timorasso. Reread my exploration of its abilities to waltz, and you’ll get it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Tavel, Take Me Away Wine Women All Year Round Old World vs. New World: Tannat Ellen in Lalaland: Escape to Santa Monica Add Sugar to Your Heart Big Barolo Energy You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Kristen Barnhisel Wine Situation Final Five! Bella Crimson

Luca Bosio Vineyards

Cortese Di Gavi 2021

Sharp but rip, all with a fun fun hint of ginger root. — a year ago

Severn, Romain and 3 others liked this

Bodegas Muriel

Fincas de la Villa Blanco Rioja Macabeo 2021

Both gentle and invigorating — a year ago

Severn, Romain and 3 others liked this

Bodegas Muga

Rioja Viura Malvasia 2021

Fresh fun and just a pleasant touch funky — a year ago

Severn, Juan and 5 others liked this

Clos Floridene

Graves Blanc White Bordeaux Blend 2019

Ripe but underscored with fresh lawn goodness and that oomph of I dunno what but..okay it’s an asshole move for me to say I’d know it was obviously a Bordeaux blanc in a blind tasting…but also, it is SO Bordeaux blanc bringing pencils, wet grass and fun citrus all together and…ugh I love Bordeaux’s white wines — a year ago

Trixie, Daniel and 6 others liked this

Jim Barry

Watervale Clare Valley Riesling 2021

Fun funzies crisp and pure. Solid — a year ago

Severn, Romain and 4 others liked this

Paul Jaboulet Aîné

Les Cassines Condrieu Viognier 2020

Omg the thing about Viognier is…you need the really good Viognier. This is great Viognier — a year ago

Severn, Jay and 8 others liked this

Domaine Rousset

Crozes-Hermitage Marsanne 2020

Red drinkers white — a year ago

Severn, Romain and 3 others liked this

Famille Bouey

Maison Blanche Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Supes fresh and spring veggie treat energy with a silky sophisticate element — a year ago

Trixie, Daniel and 4 others liked this

Matteo Correggia

Roero Arneis 2021

My first and so far my forever Arneis. Zingy but sculpted — a year ago

Severn, Jay and 6 others liked this