As the days get warmer, many wine drinkers are shelving their favorite reds and opting for refreshing whites. And my past columns have reflected this shift. But the truth is, I generally enjoy white wines over red wines year-round. I particularly enjoy those with refreshing, bright acidity and a complex range of aromas and flavors. White wines are typically lighter in alcohol, pair with an incredibly wide range of foods and offer exceptional quality at a lower price.
When I’m asked about my favorites and I say, “Picpoul” it is generally followed by the replay, “pic-what?” Think tall, slim, green bottles with a refreshing bone-dry taste layered with mineral, grapefruit, floral, green apple, lemon taste and most importantly racing high acidity. This grape has an extensive past as an ancient Languedoc grape variety also known as piquepoul, literally meaning “lip stinger” signifying the high acidity of the wine. Picpoul is the grape name but look for Picpoul de Pinet when buying. It is one of the named Crus of Coteaux de Languedoc made exclusively from this grape. Another reason this is one of my favorite white wines, the price of most bottles falls under $15 retail.
- 2016 Picpoul de Pinet, France (about $12 retail)
- 2016 Jadix Picpoul de Pinet, France (about $14 retail)
Another of my white wine loves is Viognier. Offer me a glass of Viognier and I will pause to take pleasure in the aromatics of this wine’s delicate aromas of apricots, peaches and blossoms and then on to the lovely rich coating texture this grape naturally offers. It’s a wine to be savored slowly to take in all the complexities. Unlike many white grapes, viognier can stand alone without the use of winemaking techniques from oak or malo-lactic fermentation. Because of the growing technique this grape will generally have a natural low acidity, making it ideal for those who shy away from white wines with searing acidity. It’s most famous for its home in the French Rhone appellation Condrieu but in the past 20 years California mastered this grape. California styles tend to be higher in alcohol but when balanced with the lower acidity and aromatic complexity of this grape it can be perfection.
- 2016 Louis Latour Duet Viognier/Chardonnay, France (about $15 retail)
- 2016 Spann Vineyards Viognier, California (about $19 retail)