The new and different can sometimes come with a high price tag, especially when it comes to wine. Dollars for bottles can add up quickly. Yet being adventurous doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank, because there are many fine white wines that come with a reasonable price tag. Here are seven white wines that experts say are worth checking out.
7 white wines to try:
According to Matthew Kaner, a host and producer of Somm TV and one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers for 2019, Chenin Blanc is the white wine that everyone should try, particularly this full-bodied bottling from South Africa. “This grape is truly the shining wine gift that South Africa offers to the world,” he says. Launched in 2001, winemakers and friends Tyrrel Myburgh and Jose Condé source fruit for M.A.N. Family Wines from sustainable vineyards across the Western Cape region of South Africa. What Kaner enjoys most about this wine — besides the lush flavors of apple fruit, lanolin, rosemary, and thyme — is how well it pairs with food. “Crack this with a cheese plate, with mussels, or even with a pork tenderloin, and you will feel your smile growing with every sip,” he says.
Here’s an award-winning Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa’s Stellenbosch region that has remained a consistent crowd pleaser since Mulderbosch released their first bottling of the white wine in 1992. It’s a favorite of Shanika Hillocks, influence marketing manager for E. & J. Gallo, social media consultant, and one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers for 2021. “Not enough people are talking about South African wine,” says Hillocks. To get the conversation started, she turns to this bottle, which she says is “a slightly fruitier expression of the grape,” with plenty of ripe melon nuances. She also notes that this vibrant offering is balanced enough to pair with various types of foods.
From the village of Mitterstockstall, in the Wagram region of Austria, comes this bottle of Grüner Veltliner. The wine is produced by Paul Direder, who also serves as caretaker of Direder Farm, which his great grandfather developed in 1849. Hai Tran, a North Carolina-based sommelier and Sommation contributor, says this particular Grüner is “an amazing introduction to the variety as well as one that can appeal to any white wine lover.” A bottle that can work well with food or without, Tran says drinkers can expect a “depth of flavor and ample acidity” in this Grüner as well as an exceptional display of fresh fruit.
At Sartarelli, Verdicchio is the star of the show. The Italian white grape is the only variety of wine produced by Sartarelli, and all the fruit comes from vineyards owned by the Sartarelli family located throughout winemaking districts including Coste del Molino, Tralivio, and Balciana — all within the region where the wine D.O.C. Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico is produced. “The Sartarelli family has dedicated themselves to the historical preservation of Castelli di Jesi,” says Tran. Although he says all of Sartarelli’s Verdicchio are worth trying, Tran notes that the company’s Castelli di Jesi Classico is a particularly good wine for those who aren’t so familiar with the grape. “This bottling is not only a delectable introduction to the variety but also a taste of the high-quality fruit that the Sartarelli family has been working with,” says Tran. “Super fresh with just ripe orchard fruit, subtle florality, and nutty undertones that add a nice savoriness to this crisp white. This is a must-have!”
When Hillocks first started drinking wine, zesty and acidic Sauvignon Blanc quickly became her go-to white. Over the years, she’s come to love plenty of other wine varieties but Whitehaven’s Sauvignon Blanc, produced by winemaking couple Greg and Sue White in Marlborough, New Zealand, is still the “quintessential expression of the grape” for her. “This is a nod to those first sips and exploration in my early twenties,” she says, noting the wine’s continually appealing notes of tropical fruit and lemongrass, with an acidic finish.
Minerality shines through in this white wine that’s based around Cortese, an Italian white grape grown primarily in Piedmont. The wine also features touches of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The grapes are sourced from a collection of growers in Monferrato, whose vineyard region has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “I really enjoy the bright minerality and vibrancy of fruit, with layers of yellow apple, nectarine, lemon peel, and white flowers,” says Rania Zayyat, wine director of Austin’s Bufalina restaurant and the founder of wine-focused nonprofit Lift Collective. She adds, “I love it with fresh or fried shellfish with a squeeze of lemon.”
For those who enjoy sipping on a white wine that is equally light and bright, look no further than Folk Machine’s White Light, a white wine blend that is as dynamic and expressive as the many different vineyards the company sources its fruit from. For this particular bottle, the environmentally-friendly and sustainable California winery, part of Kenny Likitprakong’s The Hobo Wine Company, uses grapes that come from all over northern California, including Tocai Friulano from Mendocino, Riesling from Arroyo Seco, Verdelho from Suisun Valley, and Sauvignon Blanc from Potter Valley. The end result is a fun-filled blend, according to Maryam Ahmed, a hospitality consultant and founder of Maryam + Company. “Aromatic white grapes create a delicious and textured wine that is food and pocket-friendly!”