As you browsed your favorite grocery store or wine retailer over the last year, you may have noticed more white Bordeaux and Italian whites. These blended white wines aren’t taking over, per se, Bordeaux whites still only represent about 9% of production, but their sales have been steadily climbing and winemakers have taken notice.
Medium, full-bodied and dry white Bordeaux-style wines as well as a wide range of Italian white blends have wiggled their way into the collective palette and there is no one reason why. “There seems to be a movement in Tuscany and Italy, generally speaking, towards rediscovering the potential for fine white wines,” said Ornellaia winemaker Alex Heinz to Wine Enthusiast.
One possible explanation for this sudden boost in white blend popularity might be due to the sheer range of flavors offered by white blends. More specifically, it might be due to the discovery of dryer and crisper white wines by wine drinkers who have generally favored reds. As sweeter white wines fell out of favor and more winemakers have seized control over their white wines, playing with and perfecting them in stainless steel wine barrels, red wine lovers have discovered white wines that they can love as well. And, with a history of high sugar content still poisoning the name of chardonnays in the minds of many, white blends have been able to build more momentum.
Vinification has evolved over the years from 100% barrel fermentation where the oak has limited the profile of a white wine to 100% stainless steel fermentation to a happy mix of both. A good wine, white or red, is often measured by its immediate quality and it’s structure to age, and winemakers are excited at the opportunity to create fine white wines that can and will be enjoyed for years to come.
So move over Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and make way for a little variety on the shelves.