With Winter creeping up on us, you may be starting to crave hearty red wines -
but a rich, creamy style of white wine can also be an excellent choice for the season. While we
tend to want crisper, more refreshing styles of whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Vinho Verde in the
summer, the fuller-bodied, lower acid whites are lovely to sip by the fire or when you're warming
up from the cold. Here are our picks for top "Winter Whites":
Winter White Wine # 1 - Chardonnay
Chardonnay is the reigning varietal for full-bodied, luscious whites. Styles of Chard
that are aged on the lees and/or fermented and aged in small oak 'barrique' barrels will be even
creamier and toasty than their leaner tank-fermented cousins. For a rich Chardonnay that's still
well-balanced with a kiss of fruit, we adore Cakebread's Napa Valley
Chardonnay. The new 2010 vintage release is available now for $37 a bottle.
Winter White #2 - Pinot Gris
While the Italian version, labelled Pinot Grigio, is typically light and tart, the
French-style Pinot Gris bottlings from Alsace and Oregon express a completely different side of
this grape: soft, round and fruit-forward. Our favorites include the 2009
Erath Vineyards Pinot Gris from Oregon ($14) and the 2009 Pierre
Sparr Pinot Gris Reserve from Alsace ($26).
Winter White #3 - Viognier
Viognier is grown in the Rhône Valley in the South of France, but has
started to become popular in other parts of the World as well. This isn't a grape that is easily
grown in a wide variety of environments so may never take off like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
Better bottlings of Viognier have tremendous charm with a viscous mouthfeel and amazing complexity
- notes of mineral and flint marry up with with stone fruits. Our favorites include the
2009 E. Guigal Condrieu 'La Doriane' ($100) and the 2009 Miner
Family Estate Viognier from Napa ($18).
Winter White #4 - Champagne
In our opinion, there is NO wrong season for bubbles! That being said, Winter is a
time for celebrations that cry out for sparkling wine, and we particularly love a creamy, yeasty
blanc de blancs style of Champagne in particular this season. Champagnes that are aged on the lees
or aged will show more of this kind of character. Champagnes and sparklers we love include
Duval de Roy Brut NV ($40) and the 2007 Schramsberg Blanc de
Next Article: Red, White and Rosé