If you’re not observing (practicing? participating in?) Dry January and opting for the “Damp” edition, here are a few white wines that stand up to hearty winter fare without putting a damper on on your drinking.
Count Karolyi Gruner Veltliner 2021, Hungary. Usually an offering from Austria, this next-door-neighbor bottling is a medium-bodied, dry white from Hungary’s Pannon region. It’s kind of a Chardonnay/Riesling hybrid in personality with baked pear fruits, and green apple, some tangerine/clementine tinges. Round on the palate, an easy, pleasant and versatile sip with cheese, roast chicken and butternut squash, risotto.
Stone Castle Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay Reserve 2018, Rahoveci Valley, Kosovo. What a surprise! Made from the largest producer in Kosovo—and one of the largest in the Balkans, this is a tropical-fruited Chardonnay. Apple and pear are there, but so is pineapple, some honeyed notes and a round, creamy aspect, thanks to the time in barrel and on lees. Tasting and interesting and a worthwhile detour off the usual Chardonnay path.
Chateau des Adouzes “Le Tigres“ Faugeres 2022 Sud de France, Languedoc. Medium bodied with lemon/lime chiming in from Vermentino, aka Rolle. Blended with Grenache Blane and Roussanne for a true southern France experience. Snappy and savory, shimmery lemon gold.
Domaine Passy Le Clou Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2017, Chablis. Classic Old World Chardonnay redolent of golden and tart green apples and quince. Lovely interplay between the tarter apple and the richer, riper fruit. Round and rich, a bit of lactic quality, likely from resting on lees. From a young winemaking team that’s waking up the region. For pairing, simpler is better: creamy risotto, roasted white meats, soft cheeses.
Gustave Lorentz Pinot Blanc Reserve 2022, Alsace. A fuller-bodied expression of a white from Alsace, in northeast France. This one shows tart yellow plums and apples, fennel, mouth-watering acid. Perfect mid-week wine with creamy pastas but also an adept partner for weekend dinners with friends
Pascal Granger Beaujolais Villages Blanc “La Jacarde” 2021. Shimmery light gold in color, medium-bodied and beeswax-y glycerol. While the acid is mouthwatering, it’s not racy. This is great democratic wine: not too simple, not too complex and a fair food partner to lots of flavors and textures. Pull up a bistro chair for this one.
Herdade de Sao Miguel “Colheita Seleccionada” Branco 2020, Alentenjo. A blend of Portuguese native grapes with an assist from Vedelho and Viognier, this is a medium-bodied, lemon-y, smoky/flinty, white- and yellow- tropical-fruited wine to go with lots of fall-into-winter dishes. Terrific match with hearty chicken noodle soup and smoked gouda cheese.
Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto 2020, Vinho regional, Lisboa. Made of 100% Arinto, one of Portugal’s great and versatile native white grapes, this is a fresh, citrus-y tropical-inflected medium-bodied wine with good minerality, leaning toward the stone fruit spectrum.
Capensis 2020 Chardonnay, Western Cape, South Africa. A 100% wine of origin and blended from multi vineyards, this is a Chard that has been lightly touched by the winemaker, e.g. the fruits shine, the intervention is minimal or at least, the winemaker showed a discreet sleight (slight) of hand. Pretty toasted brioche flavors along with a saline tinge hint at Chablis, but the tropical fruits place this in the New World. A pretty Chard that will convince Chard deserters to come back.
Matetic Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Valle de San Antonio, Chile. A medium- to full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc that doesn’t have the typical robust green note of a New World SB. There is a tinge of boxwood on the nose, but that gives over to a tropical-fruited juicy wine of grapefruit, papaya and mango. In truth, I’m not a big Sauvignon Blanc fan, but, dear reader, I drank the whole thing!
Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2022, Stellenbosch, South Africa. A reliable performer from a legacy family (1688) producer. Yellow apple, not as waxy as. Loire version, but with a flavor profile that echoes wines from warmer parts of the region. A little lanolin, pleasing savory glycerol mouthfeel gliding into tropical fruits pear, melon and passion fruit and pear.
Bodegas La Val Finca Arantei Albarino 2021, Rias Baixas. Creamy lemon compote, herbal undertone, yellow fruit and white flowers gliding over the palate in a very satisfying mouthfeel. Tangy, with a bit of saline tinge, even with the opulent weight of this wine, a luxe experience. Single-vineyard, estate bottled.
Ramon Bilbao Verdejo 2022, Rueda DO, Spain. Buttercream and lactic notes on the nose introduce this medium-bodied, yellow-fruited wine. Quite tart; lemon compote playing along nicely with yellow plum and cherries and tarragon. Great choice for roasted white meats and root vegetables.
Feudo Maccari Family & Friends Grillo 2021, Terre Siciliane IGP. A full-bodied savory and fresh white, packed with anise and herbs, tart yellow fruit, white cherries. A surprising stunner.
Masseria Li Veli “Verdeca” 2020, Salento IGT. From the heel of the boot comes this golden-hued with a honeyed nose, accompanied by lemon rind and a little petrol vibe. Full bodied on the palate showing more of that lemon, now a cooked compote. Opulent and rich while keeping a tart fruit profiled. Great match with omelettes or other eggy dishes, and hard to match green veggies like kale.
Duchman Family Winery Roussane 2020, Oswald Vineyard, Texas. A little oak spice on the nose accompanies an herbal undertone, followed on the palate by yellow fruits: yellow plums, lemon compote and a bit of apple. A richer and fuller-bodied solid performer in the growing canon of Mediterranean grape varieties that succeed in Texas.
Tank “La Loba” 2021 El Dorado County, Calif. A carbonic Chenin-driven white blend helped by Petit Manseng, Bianchetta Trevigiane and a bit of Orange Muscat. Full bodied and opulent, honied with beeswax, apricot. Unexpected and delightful. One in the series of quirky and fun wines with eye-catching labels.