Aromatic White Wines

By Sandra Crittenden
Placeholder image 

The April showers have brought forth the May flowers and those heady aromas can also be enjoyed in the glass this spring with aromatic white wines.

Aromatic white wines are defined by their pronounced floral aromas backed up with bright fruit that comes in a range of flavor, intensity, and sweetness.

White grape varieties that are known for their aromatic quality include Albariño, Gewurztraminer, Muller-Thurgau, Muscat Blanc aka Moscato, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontes, and Viognier.

A class of aroma compounds called terpenes, particularly a subgroup known as monoterpenes, are the naturally occurring compound that not only gives these grapes their aromas but are also the same compounds that are responsible for giving flowers their ethereal scents and are a component in the strong scents associated with pine trees, basil, and orange peel.

Linalool is one of the most well known, lending its aromatic lift to a range of flowers, herbs and spices including lavender, bergamot, cinnamon, rosewood, and citrus flowers.

While Chardonnay often gets its character from the winemaking process and the barrels used, for these types of grapes, great care is taken to protect and preserve the natural bouquet through the use of stainless-steel vats for fermentation or older, neutral barrels that do not impart any oak notes to the wines along with fermenting the wines at cooler temperatures to maintain their freshness.

Aromatic wines pair well with aromatic foods such as Indian or southeast Asian and the sweeter versions also work well with spicy Thai or Cajun cuisine. Although the wines have an intensity of aroma, they can have more subtle flavors and tend to do better with seafood, poultry, or vegetarian dishes. Softer cheeses with bolder flavors are the typical cheese pairing with aromatic whites.

The wines should be served like any other white, chilled and in a white wine glass. The wines will become even more aromatic as they warm so wine lovers may pick up a wide range of scents while enjoying a single glass.

This May, fill your glass with the aromas of spring when you pour an aromatic white to savor with the season.

Burgans Albarino- This Spanish white is a cuvée made by Martin Codax from a small selection of vineyard plots in the Salnes sub-zone of Rias-Baixas.

The wine is named after the hill on which the cooperative is located. Dry, round, and juicy with notes of citrus blossoms, apricot, and a lingering mineral finish that is ideal with shellfish, priced at $16.

Michele Chiarlo Moscato D’Asti
The best Moscato wines in the world come from the Asti region of Piedmont in Italy. This wine is lightly sparkling with aromas of orange blossom, peach, and apricot with a delicate, sweet fruity finish. This wine is a classic and a steal at under $14.

Brooks Oak Ridge Vineyard Gewurztraminer
This wine was sourced from the Columbia Gorge region of Oregon and is made in a dry style that is belied by the sweet flavors. Jasmine dances with guava, honey and lemon curd in a lush style that finishes dry, under $18.

Jean Baptiste Adam Gewurztraminer Reserve
Fifteen generations have been involved in this family-owned business in Alsace, France, where they have been leaders in organic and biodynamic grape growing. This wine expresses beautiful typicicity made in an off-dry style with classic aromas of rose, lychee, pineapple, tangerine, and mango with a hint of spiciness in the sweet, persistent finish, $21.

Becker-Landgraf J2 Trocken Estate Riesling
Contrary to popular belief, not all Riesling is sweet; many are produced in a dry style as indicated by the word Trocken on this bottle, which was sourced from the Becker-Landgraf estate vineyard in Germany’s Rheinhessen region. This estate is dry-farmed and only treated with organic fertilizers using minimal intervention throughout the growing season. Crisp, dry, and fresh with floral notes of wisteria with green apple, lemon citrus, and nectarine with a trace of kerosene-like minerality throughout the racy finish, $20.

Duchman Viognier
Sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards, this Texas Viognier has aromas of honeysuckle, peach, and honey with bright acidity and a dry finish. Very versatile with many types of food from creamy curries to herb roasted poultry, under $17.

Bodega Colome High Altitude Torrontes
Priced at $15, this wine over-delivers for the price. This dry white wine is sourced from biodynamic vineyards planted at more than 5,000 feet above sea level in the Calchaquí Valley in Argentina, where the intense sunlight and broad diurnal swing helps the grapes to develop their signature freshness and unique aromatic expression. Medium body, crisp, and dry with notes of red rose, lychee, grapefruit, and ginger.