5 Great Untapped White Wine Varietals - 5 Great Alternative White Wine Varietals - THEGRAPE

5 Great Untapped White Wine Varietals

So, you sniffed – you sipped – and you savored the white wines of the ‘Big Eight’ (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio and Riesling) – but now you have a thirst and desire to explore other exotic white grape varieties. Here are 5 great white wines to sample and invest in this year!


Albariño / Alvarinho

Albariño and Alvarinho, is essentially the same grape, the difference? Well, two neighboring countries with different approaches to be exact. Albariño is native to Spain’s Galicia wine region, and is renowned for the varietal. In addition to Spain, Portugal is also famous for its Alvarinho. Noted for its fragrant aromas and high acidity, Albariño offers enthusiasts a mixture of complex flavors to stimulate the senses. Even though, both countries produce wine from the same varietal and pronounce it differently, there are noticeable differences in taste and style.

For example, in Spain, Albariño displays aromas and flavors that include: pineapple, apple, citrus, pear, mango, apricot, herbs, and hazelnut with hints of mineral notes.

While, in Portugal, Alvarinho often showcases a medley of aromas and flavors that include: peach, citrus, passion fruit, lychee, jasmine, and orange blossom with a clean mineral finish and hint of sea salt.

Both countries produce, beautiful variations of this lovely grape, offering depth, complexity and a mouthful of flavors that entertain the taster’s palate. The ultimate judge is you.


Food & Wine Pairing: Enjoy this wine with either great company or seafood dishes.

Where to buy: Online and your local boutique wine store.

Try: Portico Da Ria Alvarinho 2013, FÂMEGA Vinho Verde, La Caña Albariño 2013



Assyrtiko (pronounced: a seer’tee ko) is one of the most famous white grape varieties in Greece, where it is grown on the majestic island of Santorini, in the Aegean Sea. Noted for its versatility and high acidity – this grape can be coaxed into, very dry wines, semi-sweet/sweet wines and even fortified wines known as, Vinsanto. Assyrtiko knows no bounds in the hands of a talented winemaker. Additionally, it may be drunk young or aged for many years. Depending on the style, this grape’s signature aromas and flavors include: citrus-blossom, apple, pear, melon, and fig, combined with accents native to the island’s volcanic soil, evoking earthy undertones with a distinct mineral finish. Many enjoy this wine as a single-variety (meaning a bottle made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes); however, it also blends nicely with other varieties like, Aidani, and Retsina too. It just depends on your preference.


Food & Wine Pairing: Enjoy a bottle with Greek dishes, salads, oysters, white fish, sushi and grilled chicken.

Where to buy: Online and your local boutique wine store.

Try: Santorini Argyros Assyrtiko 2013, Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko-Athiri 2013, Biblia Chora Ovilos White Assyrtico-Semillon 2013



Despite the fact that wine scholars are still debating over the origins of this lovely varietal is of little significance. What is of great significance is where Furmint thrives – enter Hungary’s Tokaji region. Offering a real bite of acidity, Furmint stays true to its inherent qualities: ability to age for multiple years, coupled with fluid-like aromas and flavors that gain complexity year after year. Its notable signature features include: lemon, grapefruit, lime rind, orange, and pear. Depending on the style, the innate qualities begin to morph in character. Transforming the wine’s color, aromas and flavors into a symphony of dried apricots and dates, mixed sweet spices, with nutty nuances, and traces of brown sugar. From dry to sweet wines, Furmint offers a balance of lush complex flavors agreeable to many palates and dishes. Unlike most white wines, Furmint is one of the only white wines in the world that benefits from long-term aging and gets better every year! Buy a good bottle and store this baby for a later date.


Food & Wine Pairing: Consider pairing Furmint with risotto, salads with citrus or fruit accents, and desserts that infuse similar fruits associated with the wine.

Where to buy: Online and your local boutique wine store.

Try: Royal Tokaji Wine Company Dry Furmint 2011, Vega Sicilia Oremus Tokaji Noble Late Harvest Furmint 2013, Evolucio FURMINT Tokaj-Hegyalja 2013



Vermentino flourishes in France, Italy and the islands of Corsica and Sardina. In Italy, Vermentino is one of the main white wine varietals cultivated in the Liguria region and is more commonly referred to as, ‘Pigato.’ Often producing dry wines that encompass fresh fruit aromas and flavors with distinctive mineral notes. In Tuscany, Vermentino is made to perfection, often showcasing impressive complex flavors that range between medium to full-bodied wines that are often compared to Viognier. While in the regions of Languedoc and Provence in France, Vermentino is known as, Rolle and showcases its own distinct aromas and flavors native to its terroir which include, sweet fruit, earthy undertones and mineral qualities.

While on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia the grape has become one of the main white wine varietals, producing wines with bright acidity, citrus aromas and peach flavors. Look for Vermentino from California’s Paso Robles wine region too!


Food & Wine Pairing: Vermentino complements coastal cuisines, think seafood dishes, sardines with olive oil and sea salt, calamari, shellfish, and oysters.

Where to buy: TheGrape.com, Trader Joe’s, wine boutique retailers.

Try: Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino 2012, Chateau Miraval Coteaux Varois Blanc 2013, Poggio al Tesoro ‘Solosole’ Vermentino 2013



Xarel•lo, pronounced (shah-REHL-lo) is a beautiful white grape indigenous to the northeastern region of Catalonia in Spain. Though normally it’s used to produce sparkling Cavas, it also produces some exquisite flat dry wines. Whether it’s made as a single bottle varietal, or blended with its usual pals like, Macabeo and Parellada, Xarel•lo provides good acidic structure and symmetry. The aromas and flavors sing to the senses, and beckon the palate for more. This divine grape showcases fragrant aromas of minerals and citrus accompanied by stone fruits, spices and earthy flavors that finish with smooth elegance.


Food & Wine Pairing: We recommend pairing a bottle with seafood dishes like, oysters, escargot, and sushi.

Where to buy: Canals & Munné, Ferré I Catasús, Heretat, Montrubí, LA VINYETA, Miquel Pons

Try: DIONYSUS Brut Nature Organic Canals & Munne 2011, Cava Brut Reserve FERRE I CATASUS 2011, HMR White Heretat Montrubi 2013, HEUS BLANC 2013 LA VINYETA 2013, Montargull Xarel•lo Miquel Pons 2013


As you can see, there are quite a few white wines to sample this year! Whether you choose to enjoy one at a time or simply prefer to have a ‘Great Exotic White Wine’ soiree with friends. Sample these lovely varieties over good food and conversation. There’s no better time than the present to enjoy these GRAPE wines, Carpe Vinum!

No Comments

%d bloggers like this: