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Uncommon White Wines

Five Intriguing Varieties
You'll Want to Know

Uncommon White Wine Varieties

They say variety is the spice of life, and it's definitely a great thing when it comes to wine varieties as well. Drinking the same Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio day in day out gets to be pretty dull. While these three white wine types are far and away the most prevalent you'll find, why not broaden your horizons to include some of the less 'common' varieties?

Here's our five picks for uncommon white wines you'll want to get to know:

#1 - Albariño

This white wine grape is also called "Alvarinho" when grown in Portugal, where it is frequently used in the stylish, fresh Vinho Verde wine (see below). One of this variety's main charms is its ebullient aroma, reminiscent of peach and apricot, as well as its delicacy. Light, crisp and fresh - this is a wine you'll want in your fridge well before Summer arrives.

Our Albariño Pick:
 2008 Burgans Albariño, Rias Baixas ($14)

#2 - Vinho Verde

This Portugese white wine can be made from Albariño although a number of other grape varieties can be used, such as Trajadura, Azal, and Arinto. The name literally translates to 'green wine' which reflects the wine's fresh, almost underripe style. This wine has a bracing freshness and light body that make it an excellent food wine, as well as just plain refreshing.

Our Vinho Verde Pick:
NV Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde ($7)

#3 - Chenin Blanc

From the picturesque Loire Valley region of France, Chenin Blanc is typically bottled as 'Vouvray', the region where it is grown. In South Africa it can also be called 'Steen'. High in acidity, this grape is used in a variety of styles, from sparkling to still wines, as well as off-dry and dessert versions. More clean than fruity, this restrained wine has a distinctive mineral aroma.

Our Chenin Blanc Pick:
2008 Ken Forrester "Petit" Chenin Blanc ($9)

#4 - Torrontes

Although the grape originated somewhere in the Mediterranean, today it is considered the classic white wine grape of Argentina and is grown very little elsewhere. The aroma is bright and fresh with characteristic peach and orange zest notes, followed by a light, crisp character on the palate. Make this your 'hot tub' / 'porch' / 'pool' wine!

Our Torrontes Pick:
2009 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes ($15)

#5 - Cassis

This French appellation sits on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Bandol. Permitted grape varieties include Clairette, Marsanne (also a major white grape in the Rhône), Ugni Blanc and the more conventional Sauvignon Blanc. Fuller bodied without the butteriness of many Chardonnays, this wine comes to life with seafood.

Our Cassis Pick:
2007 Marquis de Fesques Cassis, Domaine du Bagnol ($24)


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