The following are some bite-size, brief insights into some classic white grape varietals...
• Origin: Albariño is a white grape varietal connected with and grown in Galicia on north-west Spain; and in Moncao of north-west Portugal.
• Classic Flavours: Citrus notes, grapefruit, lemon peel and green pears, with pronounced floral notes and with age they can present peach and almond characters.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A youthful, light style Albariño pairs well with: simply cooked white fish, shellfish (e.g. prawns, cockles, mussels), paella and vegetarian cuisine. A dry, aged Albariño pairs well with: well seasoned or grilled fish, smoked fish, paua or Thai fish cakes, crab sticks and Asian cuisine...
• Origin: Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety that can trace its origins to the Burgundy wine region of central France.
• Classic Flavours: Styles of apple from sharp to sweet, green melon. From warm climates peach, apricot, nectarine, pineapple, and then vanilla and toast notes if it has seen oak.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A crisp, dry, unoaked, lighter style Chardonnay pairs well with: shellfish (e.g. oysters, scallops), simply cooked chicken salads and vegetarian dishes.
A broader, richer style Chardonnay which has had time in oak and age - will pair well with: grilled or roast chicken, turkey, pork and seafood chowder.
• Origin: Garganega is a white varietal mainly grown around Verona and the north-east of Italy. It forms the basis of Soave & Soave Superiore DOCG.
• Classic Flavours: In cooler sites good acidity with flinty, citrus, green apple, almond and herb notes. In warmer sites the varietal can express sublte stone-fruit flavours.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A youthful, bright style Garganega or Soave wines pair well with: simply cooked white fish, shellfish, calamari, white-bait and vegetarian dishes. An aged Soave - pairs well with: bbq'd fish, Asian dishes, mixed spring rolls, prawn dumplings, and a chicken salad.
• Origin: Grüner Veltliner a white grape varietal, with its origins in Austria. It is also the countries most planted grape varietal, accounting for over one-third of vineyard plantings.
• Classic Flavours: Citrus notes, apple blossom, mandarin and sweet red apples. In warmer climates, pear, white peach and a mineral, white pepper note comes with vine age.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A Grüner Veltliner is a great food wine that can be served and enjoyed with poached, grilled and even crumbed poultry and pork as well as with shellfish, grilled or bbq'd white fish, seared tuna and other light dishes witch have subtle spices and good seasoning.
• Origin: Riesling is a pale green-skinned grape varietal that can trace its origins to the Rhine region of southern Germany.
• Classic Flavours: Varied citrus characters from lemon through to sweet limes, pears and even green melon. From warm climates pineapple, white peach and even white honey notes.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A crisp, refreshing, lighter style Riesling pairs well with: shellfish (e.g. scallops, prawns), simply cooked calamari, sushi and light vegetarian dishes.
A drier, more complex Riesling which has had some time to age and mature - will pair well with: seasoned or tempura seafood and flavoursome Asian dishes.
• Origin: Vernaccia is a white grape varietal with a strong historical connection with the area around the Italian hill-top town of San Gimignano in Tuscany.
• Classic Flavours: Naturally high in acidity, lifted citrus notes, lemon peel, green apple, herbaceous notes, freshly cut green capsicum and a confident mineral seam in the wine.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A youthful, bright style Vernaccia pairs well with: simply cooked white fish, shellfish, un-battered calamari, white-bait and vegetarian dishes.
An aged Vernaccia - pairs well with: grilled fish, Asian cuisine, mixed spring rolls, herb fish cakes, and a crab salad.
• Origin: Arneis is is an ancient Italian white wine grape varietal native to Italy's Piedmont region. Where it is commonly found in the hills of Roero, northwest of Alba.
• Classic Flavours: When ripe you will enjoy exotic white flesh fruits, fresh citrus notes, ripe apples and even sweet pears, wild blossom and white honey.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A youthful, bright, light style of Arneis pairs well with: with simply cooked shellfish, calamari, fish risotto, seafood pasta and vegetarian dishes. As the wine ages or if it has a small parcel with time in oak barrels - it can pair well with mild poultry dishes...
• Origin: Chenin Blanc a white wine variety that has its origins in the Loire Valley region of France. Also the most planted wine grape in South Africa - known as 'Steen'.
• Classic Flavours: Can be crafted into dry, sweet or sparkling styles. In cool climates mineral notes, greengage plum and white honey. Warmer conditions - banana, guava, nashi pear and pineapple. Also vanilla notes if it has seen time in oak.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A vibrant, lighter style of Chenin Blanc pairs well with: simple shellfish, calamari, seafood pasta and vegetarian dishes. As the wine ages or sees time in oak barrels - it can pair with mild poultry dishes.
• Origin: Gewürztraminer is a variation of the Traminer grape meaning 'of the village of Tramin', 'Termeno' in the Alto Adige wine area of northern Italy.
• Classic Flavours: Rose petal, cloves and star anise, in warmer climates you will have Turkish-delight and other tropical fruits like lychee and subtle hints of spice and ginger.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: As youth, lighter style Gewürztraminer well with: well seasoned seafood and poultry dishes (Asian and Latin, Central American cuisine), plus herb lamb or vegetarian sausages, grilled pork and many dishes with medium intensity spices used either in the cooking or as final seasoning.
Pinot Grigio / Gris:
• Origin: Pinot Gris is the best-known 'white' variant-clone of the Pinot Noir grape. The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is known as Pinot Grigio.
• Classic Flavours: Naturally lifted aromatics and flavours of apple, pear, and honeysuckle. In warmer climates Nashi pear, white honey and ginger notes come through.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A bright, lighter style Pinot Gris or a classic Pinot Grigio will pair with: simply cooked white fish, shellfish, un-battered calamari, white-bait and mixed salads.
A fuller style Pinot Gris pairs well with: grilled fish, Asian cuisine, peppered calamari, seasoned spring rolls, and with a tuna or chicken salad.
• Origin: Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape varietal that can trace its origins to western France in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions.
• Classic Flavours: Gooseberry, tomato leaf, herbaceous, cut grass, freshly picked asparagus, cut green capsicum. From warmer climates even passion-fruit characters.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: A youthful, light style Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with: simply cooked white fish, shellfish (e.g. steamed mussels), white-bait and vegetarian cuisine.
A dry, fuller style Sauvignon Blanc with subtle oak - pairs well with: grilled fish, river trout, salmon, smoked fish, Thai fish cakes, stuffed crab.
• Origin: Viognier was once fairly common around France; now it is a rare white varietal grown almost exclusively in the Condrieu region of the Northern Rhône Valley.
• Classic Flavours: Vibrant aromatics of spring flowers, vanilla, honey-suckle; flavours of citrus, ripe pear, apricots, musk, lychee and even pineapple.
• Food Pairing Suggestions: Due to the highly aromatic and fruit forward nature of the varietal, allows Viognier to pair well with seasoned even spicy foods such as Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. A perfect match with sushi and sashimi, also shellfish such as crab and crayfish are ideal combinations with well balanced Viognier wines.