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White Wine Grape Varieties and Wines

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R

Riesling
Riesling is considered by many wine experts to be the most noble and unique white grape variety in the world.  The wine is often low in alcohol (sometimes 8%) and thus light in body.  By comparison, most chardonnays are 13-14%.  Rieslings are intensely flavorful wines of ravishing delicacy, transparency and lightness.  The refined structure is accented by mouth-watering flavors of fresh ripe peaches, apricots, and melons, sometimes pierced with a vibrant, mineral-like quality, like the taste of water running over stones in a mountain stream. Riesling is made principally in Germany, France, New Zealand, California, New York, Australia, Austria and South Africa.

Robola
One of the finest grapes in Greece, it makes lemony, minty, and flowery wine that has great complexity and balance.

S

Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc, to me, is the opposite of chardonnay.  Where Chardonnay is all creamy and buttery and round, Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, herbal, tart and clean.   Flavors of straw, hay, grass, meadow, smoke, green tea, herbs, and gunflint run around your mouth with a wonderful intensity.  There is no mistaking a sauvignon Blanc.  I like the Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, but the there are many others.  In the Loire, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are two wonderful wines.  In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is blended with Sémillon which mellows the tartness of the sauvignon Blanc.  These are wonderful wines.  California makes some beautiful sauvignon Blancs too. 

  • WhiteHaven  - New Zealand
  • Monkey Bay  New Zealand
  • Grgich  Fumé Blanc –California
  • Chateau Carbonnieux  Bordeaux France
  • Domaine Balland Sancerre  Loire France

Sauvignon Blanc: In Depth

Sémillon
Used for both full, dry wines and intensely sweet dessert wines. In Bordeaux and California, sémillon is often blended with a bit of sauvignon blanc.  Sauvignon, with its lean tartness, is mirror opposite of big-elbowed sémillon. Both dry white Bordeaux and Sauternes are principally sémillon, blended with a small amount of sauvignon blanc. The other principle place that sémillon is grown is Australia, where it can be transformed into a magnificent dry, white wine.  Many are straight varietals but it is often blended with chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.  Older sémillons often develop a rich, honeyed flavor, and a lush, almost lanolin-like texture.

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