Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Wednesday, January 13 2021

Top 10 : International Whites Under $20

By: Geoffrey Moss MW
Regardless of the price tag, you can find wines of place

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.

Written By:
Geoffrey Moss MW
Geoffrey Moss MW

Geoffrey Moss MW, a wine reviewer/critic and contributor at Gismondi on Wine, earned his Master of Wine in August 2020. Born in Ontario, with a degree from McGill University in Political Science, Moss' resume includes working for premium brands, including with Don Triggs and family at Culmina Estate Winery, and then as part of the team for the ambitious, 100-million-dollar Phantom Creek Estates project, seeing its brand and winery emerge from scratch to full realization. Moss opened Lithica Wine Marketing in 2019. He runs his wine consulting business from Penticton, British Columbia, in the heart of the Okanagan Valley.