Try these four undervalued but delicious white wines

 

White wine can sometimes feel like the underdog in the wine world. There is always a lot of love out there for red wines, and in the world of fine wine, it’s reds that tend to attract more prestige and higher prices.

 

But white wine is just as complex to produce, and results in just as spectacular end products. Whatever the reason behind the slightly lesser reputation that white wine holds, it’s excellent news for wine lovers. This is because it means there are plenty of fabulous and very collectible white wines around at reasonable prices.

 

And while Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay will always be popular, we decided to showcase some less well-known white wine varieties. All delicious, and all deserving of high praise, these undervalued yet opulent white wines are definitely worth adding to your cellar. In this blog we’ll be looking at Viognier from Oregon, US, Semillon from the Hunter Valley, Australia, Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France and Dry Furmint from Hungary.

 

White wines to try from Oregon

 

Oregon is now home to the Viognier white grape. Originally from the Rhone Valley in France, the grape has taken hold in the Pacific Northwest over the last few years. Despite being a tricky grape to grow and make into delicious wine, it is contributing to some great white wines from this region.

 

Maryhill Winery produced almost 8,300 cases for its 2016 vintage in a bid to become the biggest producer. Owner Greg Lethold said at the time: “It’s our second-largest production wine, and demand has grown 38% over the last year.” Much of the grapes they use comes from the vineyards surrounding their winery, and the winemakers have been winning awards for their Viognier for around ten years.

 

Using French oak production techniques, their Maryhill Winery 2016 Viognier maintains its ripe fruity characteristics, with a delicate sweetness. Expect flavour notes of honeysuckle, orange and apricot with a pleasing balance between sweetness and acidity. The 2016 vintage was awarded the gold medal in the Washington State Wine Competition and is definitely worth trying. It goes particularly well with a creamy, rich pasta dish.

 

While Oregon was previously mostly well known for its Pinot Noir, it is one of the most interesting hotspots for chilled white wines. Other great varieties include Arneis and Melon de Bourgogne.

White wines to try from the Tokaji region in Hungary

The Tokaj wine region in Hungary is known for its sweet white wines. It was the very first region to be officially classified as a wine region back in 1730. In 1757 it was formally recognised and officiated by noble decree. Tokaji wines are noted for their sweetness, due to the grapes being affected by ‘noble rot’.

 

There are six grapes approved for wine making in Tokaj: Furmint, Harslevelu, Yellow Muscat, Zeta (once called Oremus), Koverszolo and Kabar. Furmint accounts for almost two-thrids of wine produced in the area and is the most important grape, followed by Harslevelu.

 

Tokaji wine is traditionally made from grapes grown on a very small plateau around 1,500 feet above sea level close to the Carpathian Mountains. Its soil has high levels or lime and iron, and the region benefits from sheltered winters and hot summers. Furmint grapes have thick skins which become thinner as they age, allowing the sun to evaporate a lot of the liquid. This results in high sugar levels, and long ripening times. The grapes are left on the vine long enough to develop ‘noble rot’, which is a certain type of mould.

 

Today, the Tokaji region produces lots of delicious sweet wines, but is also producing more dry versions too. Wines such as Kikelet Dry Tokaji offer a really delicious and decadent feeling alternative to the sweet versions. It’s more delicate than the sweet Toakji wines, and is packed with citrus flavours, including fresh green apple, lemon and lime.

 

Why Hunter Valley Sémillon is a white wine worth trying

The very first vineyards ever planted in Australia were in the Hunter Valley. And Semillon was first made in 1831 with grapes brought over from its native France. It’s a real underdog of a grape but comes into its own in Hunter Valley dry and sweet white wines.

 

In its early days it was often mislabelled as Hunter River Hick or Chablis, which didn’t help to establish its name as a great grape in its own right. But it’s always been popular with winemakers in Australia, as it’s relatively easy to grow in this humid climate. Hunter Semillon’s delicious flavours and aging capacity is down to great winemaking. The grapes are picked at low levels of alcohol (about 10%), and delicately handled, before being fermented at low temperatures.

 

When it’s initially bottled, Hunter Semillon is very light and delicate, with notes of grass, citrus and straw. But in just five years it transforms into a toasty, rich, honeyed, nutty wine. It’s also one of the lowest alcohol white wines on the market with such a complex and fabulous flavour profile.

 

Try white wines from the Alsace region of France

Alsace white wines are hugely influenced by the German traditions of winemaking. There are 12 different white wine grapes grown in the region, and 13 whites hailing from there. And while Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer are well known, there are other more obscure white wines worth trying.

 

Muscat is a deliciously refreshing Alsatian white wine, with a fruity, dry finish. It’s an accessible white that most people will love, but it also feels rich and a bit special. It often has a floral aroma, with fruity flavours and a hint of sweetness. Alsace is home to a number of varieties of Muscat grape, and different blends produce different styles of white.

Seven popular types of white wine ideal for any occasion

With cooler days and longer nights, is now the time to rethink your white wines? We think so. White wine is ideal for so many occasions, and it’s a more diverse category than many people think.

If you’re stuck for what to choose, these popular types of white wine may point you in the right direction.

 

What are the most popular types of white wine for 2019?

Whether you love a cabernet sauvignon, a specialist fine white wine, or something a little more laid back, there is something for everyone this autumn. A glass of cold white wine always goes down well and is something of a crowd-pleaser.

And as we look ahead to the party season, it could be time to stock up your wine cellar. There are so many fine wines available online that we would always recommend a good browse before making any decisions. In the meantime, here are some delicious whites to try this autumn.

 

1. From the French Loire: Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine

This is a natural white wine. It’s farmed organically and made with no chemical additives. From the Loire Valley, it’s a deliciously balanced white wine. With a buttery yet briny finish the white wine has a sweet and yet slightly salty flavour. It goes brilliantly with seafood dishes and fresh oysters. A great choice for a dinner party as the nights draw in.

 

2. From South Africa: Mulderbosch 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Fresh, vibrant and clean are the words most commonly used to describe this sauvignon blanc. It has a crisp grassiness, and a hint of green pepper. The finish mellows out through the mineral taste. Ideal for dishes that include asparagus, artichokes or soft cheeses.

 

3. From Sonoma Bay in the US: Outlot 2015 Chardonnay

Chardonnay whites are having a renaissance in 2019. This version is a juicy and intense chardonnay, which has a particularly delicious aroma. Expect notes of peaches, candy floss and apples. It goes beautifully with soft cheeses such as Brie.

 

4. From Austria: Grüner Veltliner Handwerk Reinhard Waldschutz

If you’re less familiar with Austrian white wines, this is a great wine to start with. It’s extremely versatile thanks to its flesh flavour. You will taste notes including lemongrass, white pepper and herbs. As it’s so refreshing, it’s ideal to go with salads, seafood and crispy potato dishes.

 

5. From Portugal: Gazela Vinho Verde

White wine from Portugal and Spain are becoming increasingly popular. The youngest variety on offer is vinho verde, and it’s definitely worth trying. Generally, on the cheaper end of the market, these wines don’t suffer from a lower price point. This version is perfectly light, very crisp and ever so slightly fizzy. Thanks to this combination, you’ll find it stimulates the palate and goes excellently with seafood.

 

 6. From Naples, Italy: Feudi Di San Gregorio Cuttizi Greco du Tufo

Made from a grape called ‘greco’, which is found in the volcanic terroir in the hillsides of Naples, this is a special white wine. It’s great for a celebration or other special occasion, thanks to its minerality, clean flavour and smoky texture. It deserves to be served with a fish dish, such as john dory or turbot.

 

7. From Sardinia, Italy: Poderi Parpinello Ala Blanca Vermentino di Sardinia DOC 2018

White wine lovers are usually more familiar with wines from Sicily. Sardinian versions are less well known. This white is made in the vineyards situated near Alghero in the northern area of Sardinia. Its distinctive flavour includes tropical fruit, lemon and spices, with a fresh and zingy finish.

So, don’t be afraid to try some new white wines this autumn. Just because the nights are drawing in, you don’t have to stick to reds. And as you can see from this list, there are plenty to sample. Look online for some extra special white wines ideal for any occasion.

Report shows 2018 broke fine wine investment records

Reports show that investing in fine wine is a more stable bet than buying gold, making it one of the most sought-after asset classes. The Liv-ex summary of the 2018 fine wine investment market says it is “a record-breaking year.”

The research shows that most of the top 100 investment wines revolve around Bordeaux, which has been “steady, consolidating after two years of strong gains”. Burgundy comes out the most impressive performer.

Fine wine investment index

The Fine Wine 1000 index by Liv-ex is described as “the broadest measure of the fine wine market”. Over the year, the index increased by 10.2% and Burgundy is responsible for a lot of the growth, rising by 35.5%.

The ten most impressive price rises were all Burgundy. This shows that demand for the highest end wines in this region is high and is likely to continue to increase prices over the next year.

Record-breaking wines in 2018 include two bottles of Romanee Conti 1945 that sold for just over £443,000 and £394,000 respectively. And while these grabbed media headlines, the wider market for Burgundy has been quietly growing. Collectors are buying more into estates including Roumier, Leflaive, Leroy and Rousseau.

Widening interest from investors

As well as the strong interest in Burgundy, the research also shows a clear trend for investors to widen their interest. Many are now looking past Burgundy and Bordeaux to other regions including the Rhone, California and Champagne. Wines from these regions are making impressive gains, but from smaller base levels than Burgundy.

Leaving aside the Live-ex 1000, the more exclusive index (Liv-ex 100) concentrates on only the most expensive wines. This increased in value by 0.22% within a narrow range of 2%, making it “more stable than gold” over the course of this year. This Is partly because the index is in Sterling, and there has been a somewhat stable pound against the Euro over the year.

For 2019, the index says that the fine wine market is “in good health, offering steady returns and low volatility compared with other mainstream assets”. The summary also mentions the doubts cast over the industry due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, saying: “The outcome of Brexit negotiations will likely affect the price of fine wine because currency volatility influences the levels of interest from non-Sterling buyers. However, this might be less of an issue for regions with high demand and relative scarcity such as Burgundy and Piedmont.”

Which trends will dominate the wine industry in 2019?

Wine may be considered a luxury for many people, but the way the wine industry reacts to challenges often shapes the way consumers make their choices.

There are lots of reasons why people buy wine. For example, it’s the most gifted product at Christmas. But according to a 2018 study on the habits of wine consumes, 79% of wine buyers just like the taste, indicating they are not swayed by origin or ingredients. The survey also showed that 80% of people say that the cost is the main factor to consider when choosing wine.

Wine industry reacting to consumer tastes

Getting value for money will remain top of the list for the average consumer in 2019. As many countries are going through a period of political and economic changes, this inevitably affects the way people choose to spend their money. Often, this means more people spending less.

In the US, the relative strength of the dollar means certain German wines are more affordable. German Rieslings are likely to be popular, as buying trends pick up after a slow few years. Other great value options for UK and US buyers include rosé from French regions outside of Provence. For example, rosé from Loire, the Rhone Valley, Bordeaux and Gascony will be popular next year.

Environmental impact on wine-making

This year has been phenomenal for UK wine makers, with the biggest and best grape harvests likely to lead to a bumper vintage. And while this is a positive side-effect of rising temperatures, it also shows how much the wine industry must adapt to the new normal. Weather patterns are far more unpredictable, and this will continue. Winemakers are taking note of the changes in climate and their effects on the industry all over the world.

In California, winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz says that increases in temperature and the corresponding stress on water supply are among the environmental concerns for 2019: “Cooler regions are not cooler regions anymore.” She suggests that the industry will adapt by planting in new regions and changing varieties of grapes to match the climate changes.

Owner of Garden Creek Ranch Vineyards & Winery in California, Karin Warnelius-Miller agrees. She says: “In California, we are now living in a different reality than years past. Fires, smoke taint and drought – these are our dominant concerns for 2019 and into the future.”

Health and well-being

As well as the effect on wine-making from climate change and a drive towards value by consumers, 2019 will likely see a continuation of people balancing alcohol intake. Wine is being enjoyed more as part of a meal than as a standalone drink, and there is a corresponding interest in lower alcohol options. Journalist and expert on trends in the wine industry, Deborah Parker Wong says: “The wine industry’s commitment to education is exemplary and the emphasis on consuming wine with food is ever present.”

These are just some of the industry and consumer trends that will affect how people choose their wine as we move into 2019.

Can You Pair Wine with Sushi?

When you think of sushi, you may not always think of wine as the natural pairing. Yet, it can work amazingly well – if you know what you’re doing. It is a tricky match to get right, as sushi, like all Asian food, is more challenging to pair with wine – essentially a European invention – because Japanese cuisine has evolved alongside grain-based drinks like beer and sake, not wine. But this doesn’t mean that sushi and wine can’t exist well together. Ideal Wine Company loves this combination and we have everything you need to know to make this pairing perfect. Let’s have a look at how we match wine and sushi…

Ideal Wine Company sushi and wine
Let’s have a look at how we match wine and sushi…

What qualities should you look out for?

Sushi works well with certain varieties of wine – so you need to be looking out for these. Essentially, the standard rule is that the wine can’t be too dry, as it will clash with the fish. Similarly, the wine can’t be too sweet – think of the wine that is usually paired with Chinese or Thai food – as this swamps the fine delicacy of the fish.

When pairing wine and sushi, you should be striving for a good balance between sweet and dry. A fine balance, integrity, good fruit and crisp acidities are all desirable qualities to look for in your wine. As a general rule, Rieslings of Germany and Alsace, and their New World counterparts make splendid companions for sushi.

Our favourite pairings

  • Salmon roll – dry rosé

A salmon roll usually consists of cucumber, avocado and salmon rolled in rice and coated in seaweed. With these flavour combinations, you can expect fresh and light flavours. This means that it works well with a dry rosé.  The salmon makes the tart cherry and citrus in the wine pop and its minerality turn to sweet brininess.

  • Spicy tuna roll – Riesling

A spicy tuna roll can pack a punch! Filled with spice, this tuna and rice roll offers plenty of flavour and heat, meaning your wine needs to be able to handle this. Our top pick for this is a very barely off-dry Riesling. As you need a big-bodied white for the meaty fish, this wine can handle everything. Riesling is mouth-filling, with sweet stone fruit to stand up to the spice and a mineral edge that loves the brininess of nori.

  • Prawn nigiri – Pinot Gris

A prawn nigiri is a simple offering. It is essentially a prawn placed over pressed vinegared rice. When thinking of a pairing for this dish, you’ll need to make the prawn your focus. We suggest choosing a Pinot Gris. The apple and aromatic stone fruit in the wine are perfect links to sweet prawns, with a hit of citrus serving as a spritz of lemon. It’s a perfect match!

While it may not be the obvious option, pairing your sushi with wine can prove to be very delicious! While it may be a slightly harder match, the results can pay off big time. Why not try wine with your next sushi meal?