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Top Ten White Wines of the 2014 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

White Arkenstone SBNow it’s time for the top whites.  (you can read about the Top Ten Reds here)  We’ve been drinking more white wines lately, and due to that fact we’re expanding to a Top Ten list for whites.  There were many good ones.  A few trends were that Sauvignon Blanc was everywhere, Chardonnay is still everywhere, and the Rose craze seems to have died down a bit. Still, in between in certain nooks and crannies were some surprises and some unknowns.  Several of these were truly outstanding, and will make this list.  In general the Sauvignon Blancs were very good and the Chardonnays were as well, as the tendency towards less oak results in more balanced and elegant wines.  In our opinion this is a very good thing, although we did try a couple of terribly over oaked Chardonnays during our wanderings. Here’s the list, and the same factors apply.  Quality, value, unique characteristics and regions all play into the very subjective opinions rendered here.  And don’t forget we didn’t try everything, so if your favorite is not listed it’s possible we didn’t get to it, but more likely we just have different preferences and that is OK.

To the wines!

1.  2012 Arkenstone Sauvignon Blanc – we ran into this at Rosecliff on Friday night first thing, and just like last year when we hit Casey Flat first we had another great beginning to the wine weekend.  This Sauvignon Blanc is elegant, with a sur lie creaminess that rounds out the palate but doesn’t mask the fruit.  It reminds me a lot of the 2012 Casey Flat CFR Sauvignon Blanc, which is maybe our favorite white on the planet.  The Arkenstone is really a classy wine.  About $48, which unfortunately is a bit pricey and not something we can afford to drink regularly.

2. 2013 Chappellet Chenin Blanc– this is very clean and crisp, with pear and stoneWhite Chappellet fruit aromas and flavors that sing.  It finishes clean and very long.  Left me wanting more.  We tend to like Chenin Blanc and this is a very good one.  Should be available closer to $20, and presents a good value there.  Very, very nice.

3. 2013 Domain Skouras Moschofilero – an unusual wine and a great value wine as well, this Moschofilero presents you with a bouquet of flowers on the nose and a sensation that something sweet, or at least off dry, is coming.  Not so, as the wine is bone dry.  There is great minerality, with stone fruit and a long, clean finish.  This was a surprise.  Our tasting buddies liked it very much as well.  If you’re looking for something off the beaten path try this.  Great value at about $15.99.  We’ll be doing more on Greek wines in the future.

4.  2013 Seamus Sauvignon Blanc – now this is a bit different.  This wine sees a cold and very slow fermentation.  The resulting wine is very smooth, showing tropical fruit and no hard edges anywhere.  It stands out among the Sauvignon Blancs with a different style that we really liked.  About $28.  And the name is pronounced Shamus, or “James” in Gaelic.  Produced by the Foley father/son team of James Sr. and James Jr.

5. 2012 Ceretto Langhe Arneis – we go to Piemonte for this wine, an Arneis from the White Ceretto ArneisLanghe DOC.  This was one of our last stops, at the Winebow table as we chatted with Helen, and we are glad we didn’t miss it.  The Arneis brings bright fruit, with pineapple coming through clearly.  It’s smooth with a little bite as well, as the crisp acid keeps it lively.  A very clean and long finish caps it off.  This is also somewhat unusual, and very good.  About $20.

6. 2012 Recuerdo Torrontes – this wine I have tried several White Torrontestimes over the last few weeks.  Here we have a excellent value wine, with a great fruit profile, nice acid and balance and nothing at all to find fault with.  Also a bit unusual, Torrontes is the primary white grape of Argentina.  This runs about $10 – $12, and is a steal there.

White J Lohr FLume SB7. 2012 J. Lohr Flume Crossing Sauvignon Blanc – this is another great value wine, checking in at about $12-$13.  Clean and crisp it drinks like something twice the price.  I tried it a few weeks ago and then we confirmed it in Newport, this is good wine for little money.

8. 2013 HALL Sauvignon Blanc – there’s 5% Viognier in White Hall SBthis, and it certainly works.  The wine sees no malolactic fermentation and is done in 100% stainless.  It does spend a month on the lees, and more and more Sauvignon Blanc is getting the sur lie treatment.  It works for us, and the finished product is a beautifully clean and crisp wine with some body and texture.  About $23.

9. 2012 Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay – this carries some oak, but it is refined and gentle, integrating with the fruit in a harmonious way that results in a smooth and just totally pleasing wine.  There is some crisp acidity balancing it all out.  It finishes clean and long.  This would be a great wine with food or just by itself.  Probably about $28 or so.  Everything Jordan was pouring was excellent.

10A. 2012 Colliano Cuvée White – another wine from Slovenia and Colliano, this is 30% Chardonnay, 40% Ribolla Gialla and 30% Sauvignonasse, and when is the last time you had one of those?  The wine really comes across almost like a classic Chardonnay, but with a slightly different flavor profile from the other grapes.  You originally think Chardonnay, and then your palate says “wait a minute, I’m not so sure”.  It is very good and a great value at $15.99.

10B. 2013 Twomey Sauvignon Blanc – one of a group of outstanding wines from White Twomey SBTwomey, this was expressive, carrying great fruit through to a long and satisfying finish.  The wine screams quality.  It is delicious, and checks in at about $30.

There they are, ten (OK – actually eleven) among many excellent wines.  We could have added another of the Colliano whites easily.  Here you’ll find more obvious value wines than on the red list, as several of the whites come in well under $20.  They are all excellent though.

We are drinking more and more white wines these days, and the above list is a great reason why.  We still drink a lot more red, but it is shifting a bit.  Change is good.

A votre sante!

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