Summer is made for sitting outdoors enjoying a chilled glass of vino. But rather than turning to the tried and tested white wine varietals, how about trying something new and different?
Aussie wineries are doing a great job of making some interesting wines and alternative white wine varieties are now more available than ever before. There are also lots of imported wines at good prices too.
Where do you start? Here’s a few alternative whites for your summer sipping attention.
Alternative White Wine Varieties
This Italian grape variety comes from Sardinia. It makes a nice crisp, dry style of wine with beautiful citrus and green apple flavours. It’s the perfect drink on a hot summer’s day and the high acidity of the wine makes it a great match with fish tacos, pesto pasta and other seafood, particularly oily sardines.
There are lots of Australian producers making Vermentino, from the Barossa to McLaren Vale in SA, Hunter Valley in NSW and Swan Valley in WA. Give it a go with Summer seafood.
Fiano is also an Italian grape variety from Sicily and the Campania region. In Australia, it’s mainly grown around McLaren Vale, where you can pick up some fantastic examples. It’s a light to medium bodied aromatic wine with lovely pear, floral and honeysuckle notes. Despite these flavours, it’s still a crisp and dry style, perfect for matching with fish and chips on the beach!
Pinot Gris and Grigio are the same grape variety, just made into different styles of wine. The grapes have a browny/pink or grey-ish skin but white fruit and so produce a white wine.
The French style is Gris, and tends to be richer with a more oily mouthfeel. While still dry, the wine can seem to be sweeter, due to this richness. With flavours of melon, stewed apples and pears, Pinot Gris is perfect to enjoy outside on a balmy evening, with good friends and good music.
Grigio is the more Italian style, and because the grapes tend to be picked earlier, it’s a much lighter and more crisp and acidic wine. Think fresh apple, pear and citrus. The King Valley in Victoria makes some great examples of Pinot Grigio. For a light, crisp and dry wine that’s a great alternative to New Zealand Sauv Blanc, then this ones a winner!
What a mouthful! This Alsatian grape variety is only made in a few places in Australia, mainly Tassie, where it’s nice and cold. A highly aromatic variety, Gewurz can be divisive. Think lychees, violets and your nana’s perfume! It tends to be on the sweeter side of the spectrum, with quite a rich texture. Gewurz matches perfect with spicy Asian food, like Thai or Vietnamese, but can be an acquired taste. For the adventurous drinker, this is a great one to take to a party.
If you like a Chardy, then these Rhone white varietals are the wines for you. You will often find them on their own or as a blend.
Marsanne is quite a rich style and can have beautiful spice, pear and nutty characters. Aged in oak, it becomes even richer and more delicious. Tahbilk in Victoria, would have to be the most famous Australian producer of Marsanne.
Roussanne tends to be a bit more herbal, but still has the same pear and nutty flavours. Often it’s blended with Marsanne, where it adds a bit more elegance to the wine. The Yarra Valley and McLaren Vale make some lovely wines from this grape.
Viognier is often blended with Shiraz to add some floral notes to a big, bold red, but it also makes a fantastic white wine too. As a white wine, it’s lovely and floral, with beautiful stone fruit and stewed apple flavours. Again, Viognier can be aged to make a richer style of wine.
Like a good Chardy, match these wines with roast chicken or pork and you’ll be one happy fabulous lady!
This Spanish and Portugese grape produces light and fresh wines with good acidity. They tend to be quite aromatic and have lovely stone fruit characters. Albariño is nice and refreshing in the warm weather, especially if you happen to be sitting by the beach or the pool.
A few years ago, there was a bit of a mix up with Albariño in Australia. Winemakers thought they were planting Albariño, but it was in fact Savagnin, a French variety. Oops!
Spanish foods and tapas are the perfect match for Albariño. Nothing is better than paella, cheesy croquettes and seafood with a cool, crisp Albariño.
Grüner Veltliner (or Gru Vee for the cool kids) is a bit of a tongue twister, but becoming more and more popular in Australia. Originally from Austria, it’s actually the most common white wine grape grown there.
In Australia, the Adelaide Hills is becoming the place to find this style of wine. A cool climate is perfect to produce light, crisp and dry wines with beautiful aromatics and a bit of spice.
If you like a Riesling, then this is definitely the wine for you. Crisp with beautiful citrus flavours when young, it also becomes richer and more honeyed when aged.
Match it with Asian foods for a bit of spice or with salami and fresh bread and chutney for a cheeky lunch.
So go ahead this summer and make it your mission to step out of your comfort zone and try something different. Who knows, you might just find your new favourite wine!