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Wine Review: White wines deserve share of spotlight

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There are white wines in the marketplace that are so little known that they are almost invisible.

These are excellent wines that just have not had the publicity and/or recognition as other white wines in the marketplace. They also deserve their place in the sun.

It seems that red wines garner all the accolades, medals and publicity, while white wines are the also-rans. It should be remembered that American wines were considered inferior to French wines until 1976, when, at an event called the Judgment of Paris, a California Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay swept the field of white wines, took the grand prize and introduced the world to the excellence and quality of California wines. This event was so important to both the United States and California that it was made into the movie “Bottle Shock.”

Clean Slate 2020 Riesling ($12)
Clean Slate Riesling is a return to the wines of the past. The wine has been made in the old German tradition. It is sweet without being syrupy, and it’s presented in the riesling grape signature flavors of apricots and raisins. The usually high fruit acid level, also common to the variety, is purposely held in check so the flavor of the fruit predominates. This is a great wine to accompany Caesar salads and is a nice replacement for the usual sweet white wines.

Fiddlehead Cellars 2016 Gruner Veltliner ($30)
In 1959 there was a satirical movie, “The Mouse That Roared,'' whose plot revolved around a minuscule country in Europe called Grand Fenwick, where the total economy was based on making and exporting a wine called Pinot de Grand Fenwick. To their dismay, a California company was putting out a similar wine called Pinot de Grand Enwick. With the future of their nation in jeopardy, Grand Fenwick’s only recourse was to declare war on the United States, which they did, and which, by the way, they won. I certainly hope that the previous scenario is not repeated by Austria when they discover that Fiddlehead Cellars is producing a California-grown Gruner Veltliner wine. Not only is the wine made from Austria's favorite white grape variety, but the wine also is being presented in the traditional long thin bottle. The Fiddlehead Cellars Gruner Veltliner offers the flavors and aromas of citrus of every type, which is counterbalanced by nectarine and ends in a noticeable amount of ginger and honey. If you have never tried a Gruner Veltliner, this wine may send you down a new path of enjoyment; however, just in the event of invasion, keep checking for a light in the church tower.

Dry Creek Vineyards 2021 Chenin Blanc ($16)
Have you ever heard of a wine called steen? It is the South African name for their favorite white wine. Over here it is known by its varietal name of chenin blanc. One of the best producers of chenin blanc wines in this country is Dry Creek Vineyards. This often-underrated white wine displays the aromas of honeydew melon, peach and mango, with hints of jasmine and orange blossom. The flavor is a melange of peach and tropical fruits. These flavors carry over to the finish, which also expresses a mineral element with some chalky notes. This wine can accompany seafood, shellfish, salads and light meats. The Dry Creek Vineyards 2021 Chenin Blanc has lifted the often maligned and little used in this country chenin blanc to new heights of quality.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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