White Wine 101
Alberino is found in Spain and Portugal. In Spain, the wine has aromas of citrus, honey, kiwi, and flavors of ginger lemon, and almond. In Portugal, the grape is used to make Vinho Verde, a slightly fizzy, light, refreshing white.
This grape is grown in Loire (France), South Africa, and California. In France, the best known Chenin Blanc is Vouvray. Vouvray is often filled with notes of honey, apple, marzipan, and other light white fruits. In South Africa and California, the grape usually produces drier whites, with flavors of green apples and peaches. South African Chenin Blanc is normally extremely crisp.
Gewürztraminer is often found in Germany, Austria, France, and Washington State. On the nose, hints of ginger, lychees, clove, roses, and cinnamon are often at the forefront. Alsatian Gewürztraminer is the epitome of the grape. It has come into its own in the United States where it is often seen as the perfect accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner.
Although it is also grown in Hungary and the Czech Republic, Gruner Veltliner is Austria’s grape. It often has notes of green apple, citrus, white pepper, white peach, and a herbal quality.
Marsanne can be found as a Rhone Valley varietal and is often blended with Rousanne. It can be found as a single varietal in Australia, where it is a dry white packed with noted of honeysuckle, tropical fruits, and mango. In France, it’s used mostly for its body and richness, providing aromas of hazelnut, jasmine and herbs to Rhone Valley whites.
Muscat is most commonly known as Moscato. One of the most recognized Muscats is the Moscato D’Asti from Italy, which is a light, fizzy, sweet wine with undertones of caramelized orange zest, apricot, honey, and sometimes spice.
Mostly found in Germany, Italy (where it is known as Pinot bianco) and Alsace, Pinot Blanc produces soft rounded wines with notes of apples, pears, minerality and spice. It is sometimes referred to as the poor man’s Chardonnay.
Rousanne has flavors of ripe citrus, stone fruit, and hay. It is mainly used as a blending grape in the Rhone Valley along with Marsanne.
Semillon is another key ingredient in Bordeaux. It can be found as a single varietal in Australia. In Pessac-Leognan (located in the Bordeaux region of France), wines that are Sémillon heavy have notes of baked apples, crème brûlée, caramelized grapefruit, ginger, and figs. On its own, Sémillon has notes of stone fruits, mineral and melon, with a rich roundness.
No matter where the grape is grown, Viognier has aromas of honeysuckle, intense ripe peach and apricot and a mouth-filling body. It is often found at its best in Condrieu, located in the Rhone Valley of France.