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White Wines

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White wines can be broken down into:

2a) Chardonnay (pronounced Shar-dun-
2b) Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced Saw-vin-yawn Blahnk)
2c) Gewurztraminer (pronounced Geh-verts-trah-meener)
2d) Riesling (pronounced Rees-ling)

(Again, I am leaving out some wines--such as Pinot Grigio and Semillon--in an effort to keep these pages clear and simple and in a simultaneous effort to keep my own task manageable.)

Chardonnay is the great grape of the white Burgundies of France. It is also the grape of many expensive (and highly oaked) California wines. It is also one of the wines of choice for the Power Yuppie. It can range in style from the round and fruity Bin 65 of Australia's Lindeman winery and the inexpensive offerings of California's Napa Ridge, to the slightly heavier oak-barrel-aged offerings of Beringer, Kendall-Jackson (the California Chardonnay for the Yuppie health-spa-and-business-lunch crowd), and Robert Mondavi, to the massive Burgundies (such as the Montrachet wines of Louis Latour, Domaines de la Romanee Conti, Joseph Drouhin, and Louis Jadot) of France and the oak-aged powerhouses of such California wineries as Chalone, Beringer Reserve, and Robert Mondavi Reserve. The best California Chardonnays rum from about $15 to about $35. The best French Bugundies are simply out of sight price-wise, running from a low of about $25 to as much as $500. Less expensive Chardonnays can be had from Chile and Australia, running from $5 to $15.

I am not a great Chardonnay fan, but the reader/drinker should experiment to find out what style he/she prefers (and what price he/she prefers).

Sauvignon Blanc is the grape of white Bordeaux wines. These wines (especially from the Graves region of France) can reach a soft, nutty, almost honeyed quality when they are mature (from 7-15 years of age). These wines can also be unpleasantly grassy, tart, and/or flatly and insipidly dull and flavorless. Some good wines to try include:

Chateau Haut-Brion
Domaine de Chevalier
Chateau Laville Haut-Brion

(These three Graves wines will be quite expensive and sometimes hard-to-obtain, but wonderfully tasty if someone else is buying!)

Less expensive (and easier to find) Sauvignon Blanc wines are made by

Caymus (look for their Sauvignon Blanc, also look for a wine called Conundrum, which is a mix of Sauvignon Blanc and other white varietals)
Robert Mondavi (Mondavi labels this wine Fum¾ Blanc)
Duckhorn Vineyards
Robert Pecota
Chateau St. Jean

These wines will run from about $8-$15.

Less expensive, but still drinkable wines can be had from Chile and Australia.

and Riesling are most famous in German/Alsatian wines, but since I have very little experience with German wine, I will restrict myself to some brief comments on the American wines which are made from these grapes. These grapes are generally turned into semi-sweet wines with a floral and/or spicy perfume and hints of honeyed-peach, pear, and tropical fruit in the flavors. They are generally good "next steps" for those who have cut their wine teeth on White Zinfandel; they provide some of the same sweet approachability as does the infamous blush wine while also providing a bit more in the way of flavors and food compatibility. Gewurztraminers and Rieslings (sometimes referred to as Johannisberg Riesling, or White Riesling) often go exceptionally well with Thai and Schezwan Chinese foods, as the sweetly spicy quality in the wines complements the spiciness of the foods.

Some reliable producers of these food-friendly semi-sweet wines include:

Chateau Ste. Michelle
Columbia Crest
Napa Ridge

These wines will run from $5-$9