The ‘Other’ Whites

By Joanna Schmidt

What’s your fave white wine these days? Are you stuck on Sauvignon Blanc, (and yes, my Sauvignon Blanc Only Friends, I know you’re out there!)? Or are you an SSB (Semillon Sauvigon Blanc) devotee?

Problem is, our loyalty to our favourite vino often puts us in a rut, and prevents us from stretching out. When we find something we like, we tend to stick to it. And when everything else is a bit of a blur, a minefield of names, regions, and flavours, our confidence can take a battering so we stay firmly on safe ground. I mean, what’s an appellation anyway?

But, I’m here to let you in on a little secret. All it takes to jump into the ocean of other whites on offer is the willingness to TRY them. Yup. That’s it. No other qualifications or experience necessary.

To help refresh your palate and give you the confidence to step out of your comfort zone, here’s the lowdown on a couple of the ‘other’ white wines out there that are definitely worth your attention.

Three ‘other’ favourites

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

The ‘Pinot Gs’ are light and refreshing wines which are currently coming a close second in the sales stakes to Sauvignon Blanc in the battle of the whites.

The ‘Gs’ both use the exact same grape variety yet have separate names reflecting the different style in which the grapes are made into wine.  The Italian style (Grigio) Pinot Grigio is bouncy, fresh, fruity and light. While Pinot Gris (where ‘Gris’ is French for Grey – due to the dull, grey-brown colour of the grape skins) originates from the Alsace region of France and is traditionally made in a style that is fuller in body, more perfumed and honeyed

With Australian palates geared more towards minerality and citrus flavours, word on the wine scene is that the lighter, more acidic ‘Grigios’ are being favoured over the tastes of honey, tropical fruits and hints of spice found in the ‘Gris’.  My opinion?  There’s no need to discriminate!

Pinot Grigio

What we’re drinking (Pinot Grigio): 

BK Wines Pinot Grigio 2012 (Lenswood, Adelaide Hills) Acidic and fresh with citrus on the palate.  A clean, crisp wine that has been made with minimal intervention.  Round out with deck chairs, scallops and sunshine.

Around $21.00 a bottle.

What we’re drinking (Pinot Gris):

Josef Chromy Pinot Gris 2011 (Tasmania) Tasting of pear and light spices with soft honey aromas.  A perfect drop to glam up afternoon drinks and set off your antipasto platter. Well worth hunting down.

Around $26.00 a bottle.


No longer thought of as gaudy and super sweet, Riesling is back as the darling of white wines.  Riesling’s top spot on the hit list is with good reason too – Australia is now producing some outstanding examples.

With bouncing acidity and lemon and lime notes, these new Rieslings are a brand new breed.  Many also age well producing honey and toasty flavours over time.

What we’re drinking:

The Young – West Cape Howe Riesling 2012 (Mount Barker, WA)

An incredibly tight and crisp Riesling abounding in soft citrus fruit flavours (no “big hits” of zing – more like your favourite gelato flavours) and a beautiful clean finish. A shady spot under a tree is all this wine needs.

Around $19.00 a bottle.

The Aged – Orlando St Helga Riesling 2002 (Eden Valley) This little gem is a stunner for showing a lovely bit of age at a reasonable price.  More golden in colour, it tastes of honey and lemon-lime.  It’s textural, slightly toasty and finishes long.  Show it off at a dinner party over a cheese plate.

Around $35.00 a bottle.


Flat-out refusal to drink chardonnay is common. And there’s no doubt that right now it’s the white suffering the biggest identity crisis.  For many, chardonnay means bold, golden coloured wines with big oaky flavours matched with images of bad 80’s formal outfits (magenta taffeta anyone?) It’s almost crazy to think that before Savy B became the Kingpin of whites, it was all about Chardy! [1]. Gasp!  Yes, really!  Chardonnay has come a LONG way in the last decade, so it’s time to forget those tainted memories and try a zesty thoroughly modern drop filled with citrus and stone fruit.

chardonnay is a good replacement

What we’re drinking:

Logan Chardonnay 2011 (Orange) With just a touch of light oak on the nose it has a peachy and lemon-lime zing that will help bring you back around to chardonnays.  Have with chicken salad at a ladies lunch.

Around $23.00 a bottle.

Some ‘Other’ Whites you may be less familiar with:


A long word that’s hard to say for a wine that’s easy to drink.  Call it GWT or ‘Gewürz’ if it makes it easier or the wine more palatable.  This is an aromatic white that doesn’t really get the attention that it’s worth.  With more body (or ‘oomph’ in technical terms) than some of the other whites, tropical fruit flavours and sweet spices you will be asking yourself why you stayed away so long.

What we’re drinking:

Spy Valley Gewürztraminer 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand) Smelling floral and tasting of honey, spice and tropical fruits it’s off-dry with a crisp finish.  Add some Thai takeaway and Sex And The City reruns and you’re winning.

Around $24.00 a bottle.


We’re heading abroad for this one. Italy. It’s arguably the most popular of the Italian whites (yes, even more than Pinot Grigio!). Soave is dry, fruit driven and crisp.  It’s a fresh white that’s easy on the palate.  Generally, there’s nothing too ‘out there’ about a Soave that would shock those not used to it.  What are you waiting for? Get on board.

What we’re drinking:

Monte Tondo Soave Classico 2011 (Soave, Italy) A floral nose with tastes of peaches, lemon and minerality make this an enjoyable little number.  Share with cold seafood at a picnic at the park or, don’t share it at all, just pour a glass, kick back and savour with a magazine all by yourself.

Around $24.00 a bottle from independent fine wine retailers.

So there you have it. There are plenty of ‘other’ whites to try!  This round up is a mere drop in the bottle. Proceed with confidence and enjoy discovering some new gems to add to your repertoire.


[1] J Port ‘Chardonnay kicks the bouquet, Sydney Morning Herald¸, 2009 (retrieved 19 March 2013).