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Top Ten White Wines from the 2017 Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival

pic 2It was another memorable weekend at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, and there were excellent wines to be found at every venue.  We generally take a bit of time to sort through the wide range of wines tasted to determine the top reds and whites, and generally in that order.  You might think that it is because of the name of this blog, but not so.  Usually there are just more truly memorable red wines.  They bring out some big guns over the four days of the festival after all.  Top shelf Bordeaux, Napa Cab and Italian classics are just the beginning.

That’s what makes this year a bit unusual for us, in that the white wines really made an impression.  Cheri is a

The Top White Wine

The Top White Wine

red drinker through and through, but even she was impressed with the whites.  I was impressed across the board, mesmerized by a few, and completely surprised by others.  With such a showing we think the white wines have earned a chance to go first, and so we present the Top Ten White Wines from this year’s event.

As always, this is solely based on our opinion.  We tried most of the wines there, but certainly not every single wine.  Thus we have undoubtedly missed a few, some of which may have made this list.  We also limit the list to wines that can be had for under $100, and that generally leaves a few worthy bottles off of the Top Ten Red Wine list.  Not usually the case with the whites, but there was one which stays off the list due to the price limit.  We’ll mention it at the end.

Without further ado, here they are:

1. 2013 Catena Zapata White Stones – 100% Chardonnay from the Adrianna Vineyard, which sits at about 5000 ft in elevation in the Andes Mountains, in the Mendoza region of Argentina.  This is the coolest wine growing climate in Mendoza, and at the edge of viability for growing vines.  Beautiful citrus, perfect balance and simply fabulous.  $80

2. 2015 Sonoma Loeb Chardonnay – owned by Chappellet, the Sonoma Loeb label is

Great Chard from Chappellet's Sonoma-Loeb line.

Great Chard from Chappellet’s Sonoma-Loeb line.

pretty amazing in its own right. This wine, also 100 Chardonnay, is from the El Novillero Vineyard.  It went through 100% malolactic fermentation and the acid is still brisk and fresh.  At the same time the wine is so smooth.  It is different, and great.  $50

IMG_24723. 2014 Chateau Fuisse Pouilly Fuisse Le Clos Monopole – this is pretty much a perfect Pouilly Fuisse, with fruit and floral tones and a wonderful minerality throughout.  It finished clean and long.  Just beautifully made.  $60

4. 2015 Bosman Family Adama White – there are 7 different grapes Capturein this, with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay being the primary ones.  It is complex, layered and has great structure.  Excellent fruit.  Clean to the finish.  Really well done.  This South African juice was a surprise, and a winery to watch.  $26 – Great Value!

IMG_25525. 2015 Famiglia Pasqua PassioneSentimento Veneto IGT White – this is 100% Garganega, the grape of Suave, but is soooo different.  The grapes are treated with the appassimento method, and are dried out on mats prior to crushing.  This concentrates the juice, and the wine is rich, with body and structure.  All this surrounds bright fruit flavors.  Delicious, unexpected and a great value at $15.

6. 2015 Ken Forrester The FMC – this is a perennial favorite from Stellenbosch in South forrester 2015 FMCAfrica, and no exception was to be found this year.  Always one of the smoothest white wines you will ever find, the 2015 brings a beautiful balance and a little more fruit than usual. I personally love this version of an always great wine.  $65

IMG_24857. 2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano de Avellino – and now for another amazing value wine, which has incredible complexity for its price point.  This white from Campania, in southern Italy, has fruit, structure and minerality.  It is simply delicious, very well made and only about $16.

8. 2016 Justin Sauvignon Blanc – clean, bright, balanced, wonderful fruit.  This just pushes every button.  It does so at around $15.  Wow!

9. 2015 Colliano Cuvee White – always a favorite, this white blend from Slovenia packs IMG_2493enormous value into a bottle.  We drink this in our house.  We had a bottle for dinner at a restaurant the night of the Saturday Grand Tasting, and it went perfectly with black linguini and clams.  Around $16

IMG_250010. 2015 Barton & Guestier Vouvray – very clean, crisp, with a touch of sweetness and some really beautiful citrus flavors.  Vouvray is very underappreciated in my opinion.  Chenin Blanc can take on such a wide variety of styles.  It’s one of my favorite grapes.  This is a great value at about $12.

As you can see, there are wines for every budget in the list above.  The top three are fantastic and could have appeared in any order.  The rest are also very impressive, some representing startlingly good values.  We can confidently say they are all well worth their retail price.

There were many others of course.  Some honorable mentions, all outstanding value wines as well, include:

2016 Rochiolo Sauvignon Blanc – all Russian River Fruit – what New Zealand SB should be  – IMG_2467$35

2015 Sequoia Grove Napa Chardonnay – $27

2016 Martin Ray Sauvignon Blanc – $15

2016 Villa Brici Ribolla Gialla – $12

2016 Rosaura Rosé of Aglianico – $12 (and really, really delicious!)

2016 Ken Forrester Old Vines Reserve Chenin Blanc –  $15

And there was one more, definitely worth mentioning, but not within our $100 budget limit.  The Motnik, from Vinska Klet Goriska Brda in Slovenia, is a mesmerizing wine with incredible complexity.  100% Ribolla Gialla, it is fermented almost like an orange wine.  Local herbs are smoked through the wine, giving the nose an unmistakable herbal bouqet.  On the palate the fruit comes through cleanly though.  This is pretty special, and about $130.

For the first time, the white wines come first on Red Wine Please!  It just proves that you really never truly know what is going to happen next.

Reds next!

A votre santé!

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