Need help in selecting a white wine - Printable Version

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- culinart - 03-14-2003 11:14 PM

First off let me say that this is a very well put together board, especially having a Novice section. As you can see i am new here and i am new to wines as well. Not to say that I have not drank wine before but I fall into the group of ppl who buy wine and dont understand the differences from one grape variety to the other...their r so many afterall!

My question is however, I recently finished a Wolf Blass Riesling and found it to be avg. I dont really know the difference betw a riesling and a chardonnay, but correct me if I am wrong but are chardonnays generally more heavier and full bodied compared to a riesling? I would like a white wine that has a more diverse and complex flavor, can anyone recommend one? Price range , i would say betw $10-$20 (canadian funds)
I find leftover white wines great for making alfredo sauce and adding to my pasta sauces in a reduction manner. I like red wines to drink overall (as oppose to white wine) but for now i need some suggestions to a good, interesting white wine.

Thanks for any help,


- Innkeeper - 03-15-2003 08:10 AM

There are the three Vs from Italy that offer what you are looking for. They are in the order I like them Vermentino, Verdicchio, and Vernaccia. All can be found in the low end of your price range.
I have enjoyed Vermentino even with heavy dishes, such as haddock in cream sauce.

One thing that all have in commmon with your riesling from Oz is that they have not been subjected to new oak. If you think that you would like a wine that tastes like wood instead of grapes, try a chardonnay. They do have a chardonnay in both Australia and New Zealand that I do like. It is called "Unwooded" or "Unoaked" Chardonnay.

- Nguigmi - 03-15-2003 12:16 PM

For those of us who can remember grape varieties more easily when listed by their geographical association, I looked up the three V's that Innkeeper mentioned.

Vermentino -- made in Sardinia.
Verdicchio -- comes from Marches, to the east of Tuscany.
Vernaccia -- made in Tuscany (along with Chianti).


- Innkeeper - 03-15-2003 12:44 PM

A small quantity of Vermentino is also grown and made in Southern Tuscany. Have not had it, and enjoy that coming from Sardinia.

- culinart - 03-15-2003 08:55 PM

thx there Inn,
I went to my Liqor store homepage and tried looking for the 3 V's of italy and couldnt find them but i'll ask tomorrow when i actually go into the store . However, I did find the unwooded Chardonnay from australia.
is this what u are referring to :
Banrock Station Unwooded Chardonnay *
Made in Australia
by The Hardy Wine Company
Alcohol / volume: 13.50%
Sugar code: 0

Size (mL) Item number Price
750 455022 $10.45

Tasting Note

Golden yellow colour; pear and papaya fruit aromas; flavours with light spicy notes. clean and well-balanced.

Serving Suggestions

Serve chilled with seafood pasta or grilled swordfish

By the way, what is the name of the vineyard from those 3 V's??? and what grape variety is it? (riesling, gewurtz, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, etc..??)

Thank You


[This message has been edited by culinart (edited 03-15-2003).]

- Innkeeper - 03-15-2003 09:25 PM

That is an excellent one. Used to get a lot of it a couple of years back. However, they stopped distributing here in the States. Lucky you Canadians. Usually pick up a bottle or two when up there. When I asked the U.S. distributor why they stopped, he said folks liked their regular bottling of chardonnay better, and it only had a little oak in it. Bull roar.

All three Vs are both the names of grapes and wines I think. Am sure about Vermentino and Verdicchio.

[This message has been edited by Innkeeper (edited 03-15-2003).]

- stevebody - 03-16-2003 01:43 PM


Second to IK's suggestions, with some addendums: Italy's whites - except for the rapidly-becoming-ubiquitous Pinot Grigio - are among the most overlooked whites in the world. In terms of sheer complexity and diversity of flavors, the Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo (a Wine Spectator Top 100 selection for 2002) is one of the only whites I've ever bought that is as interesting as a good red. It has a remarkable palate and develops nuances as it breathes. Another idea is any one of the excellent Soaves from Anselmi (San Vincenzo or I Capitelli), Pieropan (The basic Classico or the La Rocca), or Gini (Classico or La Frosca). These wines offer flavors of nut, orange and lime rind, white flowers, cantaloupe, buttermint, and on and on. Delicious stuff!

Finally and maybe most of all, I suggest the Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis. A lot of other producers make Arneis, most notably Cassina Chicco and Vietti, but the Giscosa is Viognier-like in its voluptuous palate, intense and powerful aromas, and lovely, glycerine-ish mouthfeel. It's a little pricey but should come in under your $20 ceiling.

One last thought: If complexity does it for you, think outside of the single-varietal box. Blended whites can be awesome; examples, the Caymus Conumdrum (perennial delight), Coppola Bianco, Botromagno Gravina, and especially the Bonny Doon Il Pescatore, an absolute stunner at around $15.
There are an increasing number of the white Meritages around and all seem to be at least interesting and drinkable.

Hope these help.

- Thomas - 03-16-2003 03:40 PM

...and then there is Falanghina; one of the most interesting (and intense) of the Italian white grape varieties--from Campania.

- Innkeeper - 03-16-2003 04:00 PM

Steve & Foodie, this person is in Canada. If his or her provincial store doesn't even have the 3 Vs, how in the name of hades, are all these others going to be found?

- stevebody - 03-17-2003 10:17 AM

Well, for Gossakes, did we know we were talking "provincial store" here? The "From:" line on her post was blank and there was only one mention of "Canadian funds". I thought she might be in Montreal or Vancouver. I do know that several of the B.C. wine shops do a bangin' online business, so she could order thataway, if not from a US shop. Besides, with all due respect, O Venerable One, the three Vs, which may be plentiful on your end of the country, are fairly scarce around Sea-patch. The Soaves and blends are far more available here, so that's what I was basing my coments on. I'm guessing you got an out-of-forum communique that let you know her situation, eh? At least Foodie and I gave her something to think about, which, short of shipping her stuff from Esquin, is about all I was hoping for. Comes to that, what exactly IS the availability of US stuff in provincial Canada? Good, non-existant, what? Culi, can you reply?

- culinart - 03-20-2003 02:34 AM

sorry for the late reply but I had to go out of town.
First off, thanks for the recommendation of that unwooded chardonnay Innkeeper! That is indeed a beautiful wine. Now i know what a unoaked/unwooded wine taste like. Are their any other unwooded wines not from a chardonnay grape Innkeeper?
ALso if i may ask, can u recommend a white wine that is opposite from this one...i assume a heavily oaked one...! So i can see the difference.

stevebody>>the availability of US wines here is very good. We also have a good international selection of wines and vintages. I usually buy my wines at the lcbo ( and I have asked them at the lcbo for the italian wines u suggested, and they dont have any of them. However , i think they said the Folonari terre Del Sole Superior (pasqua Collection) will be available in MAy...what do any of you's think about that particular wine?

Also i did see the verdicchio (one of Innkeepers three V's) and i will give that a try this weekend.

Thanks all!


[This message has been edited by culinart (edited 03-19-2003).]

- Innkeeper - 03-20-2003 08:52 AM

Another nice one from Oz is St Andrews, Unwooded Chardonnay. Since we can't get the Banrock Station here, I keep the St Andrews on hand regularly. It costs $8 U.S. Another group of nice chardonnays that are not harmed by oak are the so called Maconnais from Southern Burgundy. Look for Macon Villages and Macon Lugny. They are just slightly more expensive than the Australian wines we've been talking about.

For a startling example of a well overoaked chardonnay look for, believe it or not, Forest Glen. Don't know if it has anything to do with their name, but their chardonnay taste more like a woodpile than grapes.

- culinart - 03-21-2003 04:20 PM

IS there such a thing as unwooded rieslings, gewurtz, etc...or are the unwooded wines only made with chardonnays?

Hummm, the Forest Glen definitely sounds like a 360 degree turn around from the unwooded banrock but it sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing the difference between the two!

One last thing. I saw this wine in the local paper and heres how they described this wine " was double oaked, with 6 months in french and 6 months in American wood"
This was a red wine obviously (merlot) but would u say this best describes the meaning of "overoaked" (as described for the Forest Glen chardonnay) but in the form of a red wine?


[This message has been edited by culinart (edited 03-21-2003).]

- Innkeeper - 03-21-2003 07:00 PM

The only other white that gets a dose of oak is much, but certainly not all New World sauvignon blanc. It was pretty much all quite oaky until the Kiwi SB came along. It became so hugely successful that some in Australia and California have begun to deoak their's. Most South American and South Africa SB is still quite oaky.

They don't use the term unwooded or unoaked with oak free SB. You have to read the label. If it says "reserve" even if it is from New Zealand look for oak. Otherwise look for terms such as toasty, vanilla, butterscotch, and the like to tip you off.

- stevebody - 03-22-2003 02:54 AM

Also, beware the word "fume" (pron: Foo-May), a term invented by Robert Mondavi to denote an oaked Sauv Blanc. It's gained wide acceptance and is a sure sign that a little vanilla cream thang is goin' on. Must mention another fabulous white that A) is being grown more and more here in the US and B) is frequently, needlessly oak-soaked: Viognier. Viognier is the finicky, perverse Rhone grape from which the staggering French Condrieus are made. It's hard as heck to grow and no cinch to vinify but it's frequently richer and more voluptuous than any Chardonnay and has taken like a duck to water to our climate here in WA state. Why anyone would want to oak a grape like this one - which hardly needs the dose of warm/fuzzy - is beyond me but it's happening with almost every new one released. From WA, Doug McCrae at McCrae Vineyards makes a dazzling unoaked one that come sin at under $20. Worth looking for.

Lastly, much as I enjoy the obvious erudition and relative lack of wine-snob judgementalism evident in this forum, there seems to be a pervasive antipathy for the use of oak. Most times, I agree with that condemnation wholeheartedly but, in the case of a new wine drinker like yourself, I think the heaps of scorn upon oak is exactly the same as working some newbie's head about "fruit bombs", traditional vs. progressive, cork or screw-top, or any of the other current wine controversies. Sometimes - Gasp! - oak can be a nice touch. Certainly the use of oak is exactly the same thing as our national White Zin craze: a way of making wine taste a little more like all our beloved soda pops. Make up your own mind about the use of oak. Try to sample whites that are oaked and are not. If you find you prefer the oaked flavor, drink it unabashedly. All the scorn aside, oak ain't a crime, just a lifestyle twitch. I admit to my customers that I don't care for oak but I certainly know which ones taste better with it and how to talk it up. The worst thing anyone will do to you in your wine journey is lade you with their prejudices. Drink what you like and take any of our opinions with a large grain of salt.

- Innkeeper - 03-22-2003 07:02 AM

As one who abhors absolutes about worldly things, should never have typed "only." I'm sure there are other victims of the oak tree out there.

This forum and others on the net, like those on many other subjects, serves as an alternate to the main line media. For example last year in their "Chardonnay Issue" Wine Spectater list twenty "value chardonnays." Every one of them had the term "toasty oak", or some variation on that theme, in their descriptors.

Having said that, Steve is right. Try both styles and see what you like best. You might even try the regular Banrock Station alongside their unwooded one.

- Kcwhippet - 03-22-2003 07:10 AM

Didn't the French use Pouilly-Fume a bit before Mondavi took the name?

- stevebody - 03-22-2003 11:41 AM

Mondavi invented the term "fume blanc" to distinguish his oaked Sauv Blanc from the unoaked. Certainly the word "fume" was already in use, in several countries and in more than just wine terminology. It's also an old cooking term that refers to a thin sauce or broth made from smoked meats or vegetables. Sorry for my imprecision.

- wondersofwine - 03-25-2003 02:11 PM

Okay, the Wolf Blass Australian riesling was a bust with you. But try some German rieslings or gewurztraminers (or from Alsace or Austria), before giving up on riesling as a varietal. They come in various styles--dry, off-dry, sweet, super luscious dessert wines (expensive)--and can be fruity and flowery in aroma and flavors or more steely (suggesting minerals or stones). The gewurztraminer variety (also grown in Italy) comes from "gewurze" meaning spices and I like gewurztraminer best when it does suggest spices but it doesn't always have that spicy characteristic. Riesling and gewurztaminer can be complex wines although more often medium bodied than heavy or full bodied. I love the French Condrieu (from viognier grape) that Stevebody mentions, but those are probably the most expensive viogniers in the world. I lack experience with viognier from Washington State so will have to look for those to try. In my opinion the Burgundians do a better job of integrating chardonnay wine with the right amount of oak than the California market, which is why I drink white Burgundies but little California chardonnay. However, white
Burgundies tend to be quite expensive also so it is not an everyday wine for me. The other white grape varieties mentioned and the Macon wines that IK mentioned are more for everyday drinking.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 03-25-2003).]

- Kcwhippet - 03-25-2003 05:36 PM

Well, I just reread this thread. Gosh, where do I start? too much to do the whole bit, so here goes. Fume is NOT a sauce. When I was trained, it was (and still is) a fumet - that's with a T. What next? If you've such a large presence in Seattle (or Sea-patch as you so quaintly refer to it) how is it that the three V's are scarce. I know that if they were scarce in Santa Monica, then Roberto would have them in a trice in order to best serve his customers. Oh yeah, about Fume Blanc - actually Mondavi just reversed the name for the grape in the upper Loire Valley where Sauvignon Blanc is known as Blanc Fume. Previously, he made his SB sort of like Barsac - a bit sweet and no oak but it didn't sell well. After experimenting, he decided to try some cold fermenting and a bit of oak. It was a hit. The first I had was the 1967 (yes I'm that old) and it was at least as good as anything I'd had from the Loire. That's enough for now.