Three White Wines beyond The Big Three
If you drink white wine, it is more than likely a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc. And if you like one of them you probably are not fond of the other two. That is just the way it is as we are conditioned to stick with what we know. But I am here to tell you that there is so much more in the white wine world to be consumed and you are truly missing out on some great juice.
I have recently been on a white wine quest, and I wanted to share a few of the wines that we have opened and enjoyed.
But First: Naming Wine in Italy
Italy makes it a challenge for the novice. In Italy, one can name a wine with a regional designation IGT (aka IGP). The regulations for these wines is less restrictive than the two higher designations of a sub-region (DOCG, or DOC). DOCG is the highest level of quality assurance, and DOC is the next level down. The quality assurance designations include vineyard standards as well as winemaking standards. To achieve such a designation the winery must submit to various quality control tests that can be quite restrictive.
There are also wines that are named for the grape variety. These wine are not tested and regulated for quality assurance status. In this situation, you may find a wine that is an excellent example of the regional varietal, but the winery did not wish to submit the wine for approval.
Don’t let a label intimidate you. Be sure to read the back label too. It can tell you a lot about the wine.
Gavi A Beautiful White Wine From Italy
Gavi is the DOCG, a small subregion within the greater Piedmont region. The wine named Gavi is always a white wine made from the Cortese grape. This wine is light-bodied, with high acidity commonly exhibiting green fruit and citrus flavors. I like Gavi that has more expressive aromatics and flavors. The image of the wine here was a perfect fit for me. I had a different Gavi when out at dinner last night at Baker & Brewer, and was not a fan of that bottling. But that was one Gavi out of the six or so that I have tried.
The Signature White Wine of Campania, Italy
Falanghina (fah-langh-gee-nah) is the grape varietal from which this wine is made and is named. This wine comes from the region of Campania on the southwestern coast above the “toe” of Italy. Based on the lack of designation, one might infer that the fruit for this wine came from multiple sub-regions within Campania or other factors that limited approval as a DOC wine. It should be noted that there are other wines made with Falanghina grapes that do have DOC status.
Falanghina is one of the oldest known white wine grapes from Italy, dating back to ancient Roman times. It is the signature white wine of Campania made as a single varietal wine as well as a blending grape for other regional favorites.
White Wine2018 Villa Matilde Falanghina, Rocca Dei Leoni
Gary and I tasted this wine at a wine tasting recently, and it was our favorite of the night. I was thrilled that Gary liked this wine as it is an aromatic wine with floral notes, which he generally does not like. This wine must have hit a balance for him with its satiny mouthfeel, its citrus, peach, and honey flavors and it’s middle of the road acidity
To get the most from this wine, I would drink it closer to 50ºF. If you want to try this wine you need to head to one of these three restaurants: The Establishment or Indaco, downtown and Cuccopazzo in Mount Pleasant.
Malvasia Bianca – A Mediterranean White Wine
Malvasia Bianca originated in Greece but now is grown in various regions around the world, albeit primarily in the Mediterranean Basin including Italy, Greece, Spain, the Canary Islands, and Croatia. Recently I had the pleasure of tasting a domestic Malvasia Bianca from Monterey California as well as one from Istria, Croatia.
Malvasia Bianca is another aromatic white varietal with strong floral notes. These wines have low-to-medium acidity and when made as a dry wine are crisp with a satiny mouthfeel. I really like this varietal. Gary, on the other hand, prefers more acidity and less floral notes.
2018 Birichino Malvasia Bianca, Monterey, California
This wine is on the wine list at goat.sheep.cow.north. I only had a couple of sips as my friend Katia ordered it, but it was exactly as I had hoped.
2016 Benvenuti, Istrian Malvazija, Istria, Croatia
This bottle came to me from Topochines.com. Unfortunately, this vintage is sold out, and the next one is not yet in stock.
I have to tell you that this 2016 vintage drank beautifully. Not all white wines will hold on for three years, but those that do are in my book extra special.
Gary was not a fan, so he drank something else that night, and I had this bottle all to my self.
Both of these Malvasia wines were true to the varietal. I love the mouthfeel, the floral aromas, the medium acidity, and the pear, apple, quince flavors that grab your mouth.
White Wine – One Last Thought
Remember that every wine is different. Some are vinified to be true to the commonly known characteristics of that varietal and others not. But you have to try new wines to expand your palate. So if you see a wine by the glass on a wine list, ask for a taste. It may not be what you are looking for at this moment but perhaps another time.
For me, the Gavi showed in the picture above; I would buy again in a heartbeat. The one from Baker and Brewer not so much – but you may love that one… so try it.
Remember – you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince or princess of wine.
That is all for now.