Pure white – top 5
The previous articles in our wine series have been almost all about red wine. We’re moving into white wines now, starting with the top 5.
Among the hundreds of white wine grape varieties, the most popular is undoubtedly Chardonnay. Its ability to adapt to and absorb the soil’s characteristics results in flavours ranging from mineral and zesty to oak and nutty.
It is the world’s most planted white grape and is found throughout the world. Wines made with Chardonnay can be found on almost any wine list in the world.
The Burgundy wine region of France is acknowledged as the home of Chardonnay, although Chardonnays from elsewhere such as California and Australia are also popular.
Chardonnay is medium to light in body, is highly acidic with steely minerality, and expresses flavours of apple and pear.
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape variety best known for its crisp, dry and refreshing white wines.
The traditional home of Sauvignon is in France, especially within the wine-growing regions of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.
Sauvignon Blanc does well in widely diverse parts of the world. It is very expressive of the local terroir, and can range in flavour from grassy to sweet, and in aroma from floral to fruity.
A light-bodied white wine that’s fruit-forward with plenty of acidity and medium amounts of alcohol, every region offers a different profile.
A hint of minerality and notes of lime can be found in a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.
Notes of peaches and grapefruit are often present in Sauvignon Blanc wines from grapes grown in California.
Sauvignon Blanc has become the benchmark white wine of New Zealand, where the intensity of the green citrus and berry fruit flavours is predominant.
In terms of wine production, Riesling ranks among the top three white grape varieties worldwide (along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc).
The traditional home of Riesling is the Rhone region of Germany, especially the wine-growing sub-regions of Mosel and Rheingau.
Riesling wines are noteworthy for being highly aromatic and high in acidity, usually with floral or tropical fruit notes.
A lovely Riesling may exude flavours of lime, green apple, orange, jasmine, and petrol.
Most assume all Rieslings are sweet, but there are many that are very dry.
Unlike other grape varieties, Riesling is almost never blended with other grapes.
Pinot Gris is a white grape variety that is part of the Pinot family that includes Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.
The berry skins of Pinot Gris tend to be rose-coloured, and the resulting wines are often deep golden yellow in appearance.
Also popularly known as “Pinot Grigio”, Pinot Gris is a fresh, dry wine that’s light in body with moderate fruit notes and acidity.
There are two main types of Pinot Gris wines: within France (and especially Alsace), the wines are spicy and full-bodied, while within Italy, they are lighter-bodied and more acidic.
Semillon is a golden-skinned grape that is used to make both dry and sweet white wines.
The most famous Semillon wine producers are based in France’s legendary Bordeaux wine region, where they make Sauternes sweet wines as well as dry white blends known as Bordeaux Blanc.
In addition to Bordeaux in France, Semillon can be found in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, and Argentina.