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White Wine Grape Varieties and Wines

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Albarino
The Albarino grape makes juicy, aromatic, peachy, almost Viognier-like wine in the Rias Baixas zone of Spain.  The wine is high in alcohol, acidity and flavor.  It has become very popular and can be somewhat expensive.

Arneis
One of the three top white grapes of Italy’s piedmont region, the other two being moscato and cortese. Makes dry delicate wine with apple, almond and citrus flavors. 

Assyrtiko
Top quality white grape variety with very lively acidity grown mainly on the volcanic island of Santorini in Greece.

C

Chardonnay
One of the most successful and popular white wines in the world.  It is grown just about everywhere but does especially well in cooler climates.  It has a range of styles from the French classic Chablis with its steely minerality, green apple and  citrus flavors to full opulent whites from the Cote d’Or in Burgundy and the New World.  These wines display appealing, big flavors for the most part— tropical fruit, lemon, butter, toast, and vanilla. They are lush, creamy and full-bodied.  Chardonnay is also one of the main grapes used to make champagne and sparkling wine.

Chasselas
Grown worldwide. Called Fendant in Switzerland; some of the best Swiss wines are made from it.  It has crisp apple and citrus aromas and flavors.

Chenin Blanc
The most vibrant, and famous, Chenin Blancs in the world come from the Loire Valley in France.  Specifically, they are from Savennieres, Vouvry, Anjou, and Saumur. The age worthiness of these wines made from chenin blanc grapes is legendary though little known to American wine drinkers.  Stunningly complex, they are some of the world’s greatest white wines.   Most are dry but many have a touch of sweetness that is barely perceptible. Some Chenin Blancs are fully sweet and can be phenomenal.  Quarts de Chaume is the most recognized one of these. Chenin Blanc is also the leading white grape of South Africa where it is called Steen. It is grown in California as well but the chenin blancs from California and South Africa are considered to be rather ordinary, never quite achieving the elegance of the Loire Valley versions. Flavors of apples, pears, quince, chamomile, honey and cream may be present in these wines at their best.

Cortese
This is used to make Piedmont’s most prized white wine, Gavi, a lovely medium-bodied dry wine.

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