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Winning whites
Looking for a wine to impress, but don't want to break the bank? Four Milwaukee-area wine experts offer some great white wine finds, all priced at less than $20 per bottle.


December 2010

Doug Baade
Olsenís Wine Market, Cedarburg

The price of a wine, Baade says, comes down to supply and demand. "Limited production, highly rated wines can create a demand that drives the price up to the Ďexpensiveí category," he says. Other factors that influence a wineís price include the cost of production, the quality of the grapes and expertise of the wine makers. "Ultimately each of us as wine consumers make the determination of what is expensive vs. inexpensive and the value we put on the wines we choose." His favorite white? "My favorite changes with seasons. Ultimately, I would choose Sauvignon blanc from the Adelaide Hills in Australia. The wine offers lots of crisp acidity, zesty aromas and a long, clean finish along with layers of deliciousness."

1. 2009 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc, $15.99

"This wine has bright scents of pink grapefruit and key limes with the same citrusy flavors and a lemon zestiness on the finish. Itís a wake-up call for the taste buds. The St. Supery is 100 percent estate-grown grapes giving the wine maker a great deal of quality control in the growing of the grapes leading to greater character depth in making the wine. St. Supery is perfect for ceviche, tequila-lime marinated grilled chicken, shrimp scampi or happy hour."

2. 2009 Yalumba Viognier, $9.99

"This wine has fresh and lively aromas of ginger, orange blossom and hazelnuts with flavors of grapefruit, ginger and lemon grass, leading to a surprisingly clean finish. The character of the Yalumba comes from the fact that they are the oldest family owned winery in Australia with a true passion to show the world the versatility of wine making in Australia. Also, Viognier is a seldom seen varietal that offers a great deal of floral aromas and richly layered texture, giving a great deal of versatility in pairing it with food. This wine is great with pad thai, whiskey orange-glazed pork roast or baked Brie cheese with apricot preserves wrapped in Phyllo dough."

Brian Corey
Kafevino, Milwaukee

"I chose both of these wines to highlight the exceptional quality and characteristics of the wines coming out of Northwest America and the consistently good product these two wineries have produced in the past," Corey says. "Both of these wines are diverse enough to be paired with a wide range of foods. For the holidays, either of these would pair well with a sweet pumpkin pie or turkey and stuffing, however you might want a dryer selection for the gravy and mashed potatoes." His favorite white? An Alsatian Riesling. "I enjoy its crisp, clean, acidic notes and its semisweet, dry characteristics. I prefer it over other wines because it tends to be a well-balanced white, neither too dry nor too sweet."

3. Elk Cove Pinot Gris 2008, Willamette Valley, $17.25

"The Elk Cove Pinot Gris has a sweet, prominent bouquet that transitions into a crisp and clean experience on the palate, accompanied by flavors of melon, citrus and a hint of acidity. This wine delivers the medium- to full-bodied qualities you expect from a pinot gris while offering a depth and complexity not found in many lower priced wines and yet retaining its focus. I would pair the Elk Cove with salads and Asian style food such as Thai, as well as duck and salmon."

4. Mirth Corvidae Chardonnay 2009, Columbia Valley, $11.75

"The Mirth Corvidae Chardonnay has a floral nose. On the palate one finds golden delicious apples, Meyer Lemon and a hint of oak and ripe tropical fruit. This medium-bodied chardonnay offers a clear and clean finish while retaining the palate coating and smooth qualities chardonnay is known for. It would pair well with lemon chicken, smoked salmon and white sweet fish."

Michael Greguska
Discount Liquor, Waukesha

Greguska says any number of factors can determine the price of a bottle of wine, from the size of the vineyard to whether the wine is a limited commodity.

5. Miner California Viognier, Simpson Vineyard, $19.99

"This wine has exotic peach and apricot flavors well balanced with a subtle oak taste. This has a little more flavor and aromatics than a simple Sauvignon blanc. It has a little more going on. It will pretty much work with anything on the holiday table, and itís a great seafood accompaniment."

6. Alsace Gentil "Hugel" from Hugel & Fils, France, $13.99

"This is a hardy wine with some floral qualities. It really stands up well to a lot of foods where a normal white wine would not." The annual production of the wine can result in different percentages of each grape used each year, resulting in a slightly different flavor, Greguska notes.

Brad Fine
Grapes and Tastes, Cedarburg

Price, Fine says, is not always a good indicator of a wineís value. "The real value is in the flavors and how they appeal to each wine drinker," he says. "I may absolutely die for the flavors in a moderately priced wine from a little-known, small winery, while not enjoying the taste of popular, big-name, big-priced wine. Itís all about the flavors that each wine drinker prefers." Fine notes most of the storeís 300 selections are under $16 a bottle.

7. Yvecourt Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, France, $11.99

"This is a crisp, complex white that offers loads of flavor, refreshes the palate and goes great with lots of food. Flavors include lots of citrus, white pepper and a slightly salty, mineral finish. I especially enjoy the flavor transition as it passes through my mouth, bursting with the citrus, then tasting the white pepper on the tongue. It pairs well with seafood, white dry cheeses and snacks."

8. Farnese Trebbiano, Abruzzo, Italy, $11.99

"This is a floral, lightly fruity wine with a soft finish. Flavors include pear and apple, with hints of melon and mint. I enjoy it because of itís unusual flavor combination and soft finish. It pairs well with appetizers such as shrimp cocktail to light pasta dishes." m


This story ran in the December 2010 issue of: