There are some common themes in this list of top value international white wines.
The first is oak, or lack thereof. In fact, you won’t find a mention of wood in any of these tasting notes. High quality oak barrels are expensive, and as we mentioned last week, these price points have tight margins for producers. So, if wood is used, it’s often adjuncts like oak chips or oak essence.
Now, oak adjuncts have a place in modern winemaking. However, to this palate, the resulting wines can have a confected character that easily overwhelms the fruit. The wines are aspirational in the worst sense: they’re not true to themselves. That’s what makes the list below so exciting. It’s about grape and place, and not much else.
The other common theme is less popular grape varieties. There’s no chardonnay, no sauvignon blanc. Rather, you’ll find three rieslings (okay, we like riesling), two chenin blancs, a viognier, and a slew of indigenous varieties. Sometimes it pays to go off the beaten path, and that’s the case here.
If you’re typically an unoaked chardonnay drinker, you’ll find lots to like in the Chateau de la Gravelle from Muscadet which is all about green apple and lemony fruit. If you like sauvignon blanc, reach for Pewsey Vale riesling. It’s bone dry (yes, really) with zesty acidity that will be familiar.