Of course, there’s tremendous diversity among white wines, with every wine-producing country in Europe having dozens - if not hundreds - of local varieties that have been grown for centuries and offer an incredible range of flavors, textures and personality.
Small US winemakers have long had a fascination with these off-the-beaten-path white varieties, incorporating them into blends or showcasing them in their own right, with some producers even making some of these lesser-known grapes their primary focus.
Here are some great options for exploring the diversity of US-grown white wines, just in time for warm weather.
VILLA CREEK "CHERRY HOUSE" WHITE BLEND
France’s Châteauneuf du Pape region is justifiably famous for its red blend, but the region also produces white blends of wonderful complexity and character. Cherry House White is Paso Robles-based Villa Creek’s take on the style produced in the famous French appellation. The wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, with flavors of Meyer lemon, dried pear and honeysuckle. The acidity is bright and crisp, and a very small amount of oak provides texture and body without affecting flavor.
SKINNER VINEYARDS GRENACHE BLANC
Located in California’s Sierra foothills, Skinner’s Grenache Blanc brings a floral note to the wine. There’s a bit of jasmine and honeysuckle to accompany flavors of pear, apricot and a hint of honey. The fermented wine spends an extended period on the lees, providing additional texture and just a whisper of bready aroma.
Dan Petroski came to fame in the wine world as the winemaker at the fabled Larkmead in Napa Valley. After 15 years of making classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Petroski devoted all his attention to producing only white wines - ones made from Mediterranean varieties (primarily Italian). Annia is his flagship wine, combining two varieties originating from the far northeastern reaches of Italy - Friulano and Ribolla Gialla - with a bit of Chardonnay. The result is a wonderfully complex white wine that retains an easygoing, approachable personality. Fruit flavors of white peach, apricot and citrus zest meet aromas of green herbs, wildflowers, seaspray and wet stones. Fresh and vibrant, with aging potential.
ROOTDOWN WINES SAVAGNIN
Mike Lucia’s winemaking career has seen him move from large, high profile brands (Duckhorn) to producers beloved by aficionados and fellow winemakers (Copain), to running his own, very small production passion projects. Rootdown is one of three labels he produces, now evolving into a focus only on the esoteric and distinctive varieties grown in France’s Jura region at the base of the Alps. Savagnin is the region’s celebrated white variety and Rootdown’s take smells like an herb garden, with aromas of tarragon, thyme and sage and notes of ripe pear and peach.