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You probably know the white wine grape variaties Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc, which are planted worldwide. There are, however, also grape variaties that have a very local importance within the regions they are produced. Here a few.
Chenin Blanc – A medium body, dry to off-dry, high acidity with green & tropical fruit flavours & herbaceous notes. The Loire Valley, France produces, dry to sweet wines benefiting from Noble Rot (like Riesling, Pinot Gris & Semillon). Vouvray AC in the Touraine AC wine region produces the best. South-Africa produces a cheaper variety Chenin Blanc, although some premium ones popping-up too (oaky). Medium body, dry to off-dry, high acidity with ripe citrus & tropical fruit, the Chenin Blanc is often used in a blend with Chardonnay to make high volume, cheaper blends. Asian cuisine, white meat like turkey & richer fish & soft cheeses go well with Chenin Blanc.
Viognier – A wine with a soft & pleasant mouthfeel, but full-bodied with high % & fruity & floral aromas & spice. Northern-Rhone, with a bit of South too are the main producers. You can also find Viognier in hot climates like Argentina, Chile, Australia & California. As it’s a fruity & floral wine, it goes well with white meat & (dried) fruit & nuts components & less spicy dishes.
Semillon – Important in the White Bordeaux blends together with the Sauvignon Blanc. Also, a main grape in the Sauternes sweet wine. A full body grape with like a Chardonnay but the (stone) fruits of a Pinot Gris. Semillon produced in cool climates (Bordeaux, Hunter Valley, West-Australia, Washington State) express citrus fruit & high acidity, hot climates (California, Argentina, Chile, South-Africa & South-Australia) will give ripe (stone) fruit, less acidity with buttery oak. Spicy foods go very well with this wine. Also, it’s a good guide for sushi, white meat & rich cheeses.
Melon Blanc – Known as the grape in the Muscadet AC wine, it’s a dry, high acidity, light & lean with simple citrus flavours grape. Muscadet Sevre et Maine is seen as one of the top regions. Some wines from this region are produced ‘’sur lie’’, whereby the wine is laid to rest of dead yeast cells before bottling to give it an extra creaminess. Fish, shellfish, molluscs are winners with this wine.
Albarino – A Spanish grape variaty from the Rias Baixas, North-Spain producing medium-body wines with green & unripe stone fruit. High refreshing acidity makes this wine a perfect pairing partner with seafood, molluscs & fish.
Gewurztraminer – With Alsace, France its home, Gewurtraminer is intensely aromatic with fruity & floral aromas, ripe stone & tropical fruit, balanced high acidity with a spice. Dry to off-dry, best when drunk young, although older ones can give it a honey & nuts flavours. New Zealand is getting there with this grape too. Middle Eastern & Moroccan cuisine where nuts & dried fruits are common pair well with this wine. Also less spicy food & duck are great too.
Torrontes – The white wine from Argentina, with the North region of Cafayete, Salta as a favourite, but planted throughout the country. Dry, high acidity, medium-full bodied with pronounced sweet floral & fruity aromas. Spicy Asian & Indian food & rich cheeses go well with this wine.