What I'm Liking in May 2014

Whites to consider, and while we're at what say you?


With summer on the way I've been writing more about white wines, and in particular fresh, crisp whites. Sauvignon Blanc has lead the way, asI expect it often does with consumers; if for no other reason than it is associated with that willowy summer style, is obviously familiar and widely available throughout the marketplace. At the same time though my thoughts have turned to other whites that may be less familiar to consumers but fill the summer wine bill as well, if not better than Sauvignon Blanc.

I'm not knocking Sauvignon Blanc. I love a nice crisp style, but I also like variety and would opt for a Sauvy every other week over the summer if I could fill the interim weeks with something interesting, and affordable. Fortunately, as we all know, that's a really simple proposition. I'm interested in exploring Picpoul, Albarino, and some of the great white wines of Portugal, which all fit the bill nicely.

This is only the tip of the iceberg of course, but each wine offers up something unique for both consumers and myself. In the case of Picpoul and Albarino, the so-called 'new' breed of California winemaker has brought some examples of these varieties to market, receiving mucho positive press and praise as these things generally do. They're some fabulous wines of course, but being fabulous is never enough to get the press head of steam up. Being different and fabulous, and capturing a little of that rebel spirit, well that has gone a long way into catapulting these varieties into the media's eyes. Consider me guilty as well.

So here's a question for you all. What wines are finding to be really intriguing this year? I'd love to share your thoughts with my readers, as I've begun to do with both submissions by wine writers, as can be seen here in Seven Super Syrahs , as well as those submitted by wine retailers as shown here in April's Most Exciting Wines

You may have seen these article featured recently in Snooth's daily newsletter as well. It's an effort on the part of all of us here at Snooth to further the connections between consumers and those whose opinions they should know and value. Please let me know if you'd like to participate with future articles, and in any event let me know what you're fascinating whites wines are this year! Here are mine.


From France of course though there are some exciting experiments on the west coast in both Washington and California going on that are very promising. For the moment though I am talking about Picpoul de Pinet. What a value wine. Much like Muscadet in many ways, though in my tastings with consumers they tend to prefer the added richness and fruitiness of a fine Picpoul as opposed the tension and minerality that we love so much in our Muscadet. The fact that the wines are really well priced makes these an absolute no brainer.


Now we're in Spain, but increasing also in the New World with some lovely examples emerging from regions like Lodi (Surprise!) and Oregon. Albarino tends to be a bit more expensive than Picpoul, though not by much, and is somewhere between Picpoul and Muscadet in style, though with a broader range of possible flavor profiles than either of those varieties. Albarino can be lean and minerally or ,when very ripe, quite tropical in flavor. Not surprisingly I prefer the former, which tends to be a bit more expensive.


And finally the white wines of Portugal, and in particular the wines from indigenous varieties. Portugal is a largely unexplored wine region for both consumers and trade alike. That's not surprising given the spotty record many of the wines have had and the even spottier distribution. Things however are changing. Portuguese wines continue to improve by leaps and bounds, and the prices have generally lagged behind the quality, though Vinho verde has arguably become appropriately priced after years of being available at rock bottom pricing. Even with the price increases a good bottle of Vinho Verde, undoubtedly the champion refresher value out there, still can had for well under $10 a bottle. A steal. But Portugal is much more than just Vinho Verde and varieties like Encurzado, Fernão-Pires, and dry Muscats are really making a positive impression on me.


Mentioned in this article


  • Here in Australia the "exciting" white varieties at present are:
    Gruner Veltliner- a steely flinty variety that originates from Austria and produces gorgeous wines - steely in cooler climates and more floral in warmer climates- outstanding especially the one from Lark Hill in the cool region of Canberra
    Marsanne: an long time favourite a beautiful wine with lovely honey suckle characters which ages amazingly- recently enjoyed a Tahbilk 1985 Marsanne, which was bright orange in colour and simply divine.
    Savagnin- original brought to Australia as Albarino- until 2008 when it was accurately identified- the wines taste like Riesling with attitude & character- The Irvine Barossa Savagnin is stunning.
    Plenty more interesting new whites but these are the pick of the crop

    May 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM

  • Snooth User: adegamoraima
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1134702 25

    Great to hear you appreciate the Albariño's minerality and not his more or less foreign tropicallity. :)

    May 11, 2014 at 4:34 AM

  • I think you'd find very interesting white wine made from rare grapes Timorasso in Italy in the region of the Tortona hills in Piedmont.
    It 'a white complex, rich wine, intense, structured and fresh at the same time due to its great minerality and flavor
    You can appreciate as a young or age it for several years
    Here a little tasting note just for example : Colli Tortonesi DOC, Timorasso, Rugiada del mattino
    White wine, Piedmont, Cascina I Carpini snc
    Firm nose, partly dried yellow fruit, elegant, dried, spicy vegetal notes, light oak and a hint of bacon, earthy notes. Clear, tart, juicy and again fairly spicy fruit on the palate, nutty and very light toasted notes, very elegant acidity, vegetal and earthy notes, good substance and persistence, still quite young, hint of tobacco, tart spice and some salty notes on a good to very good finish.

    May 12, 2014 at 12:22 PM

  • Snooth User: snoman
    229582 210

    Two to try:

    Picpoul from Terry Hoage in Paso Robles, and
    Chardonnay from Val D'Aosta's extreme climate by Les Cretes.

    May 12, 2014 at 6:42 PM

  • Snooth User: vin0vin0
    Hand of Snooth
    357808 7,025

    For a CA west coast picpoul, Tablas Creek and Adelaida make stellar picpoul blancs.

    May 12, 2014 at 9:34 PM

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