I recently offered good-value sparkling, white and red wines at $13 or less for your holiday parties. This week, I have a selection of inexpensive white wines for dinners at home or at your favorite BYOB.
The Royal Tokaji wine company specializes in the great Hungarian Tokaji dessert wines, but it also produces a delicious dry white wine from the furmint grape, which is the primary grape for its sweet wines.
Ben Howkins, an English wine writer and partner in the Royal Tokaji wine company, presented the 2009 Furmint as the “welcoming wine” at a recent tasting. Its floral and fruit aromas are enchanting and the honey, pear and peach flavors wonderful. It has the allure of a dessert wine without the sweetness. Like Howkins, you can surprise your guests by pouring this as an aperitif, or follow my lead in enjoying it with sautéed skate and cauliflower. It will also be a good partner to scallops, crab meat, roasted veal, and at $16, your wallet.
Howkins also presented the 2009 Mad Cuvee, Royal Tokaji’s basic dessert wine. Mad is not a state of mind; it’s the town where winery is located. The 2009 rendition has a pronounced lime fragrance and delicious honey and orange flavors. Good acidity gives the 2009 Mad Cuvee a clean, dry finish that makes it perfect with a foie gras appetizer, or a main dish of grilled teriyaki chicken with mango salsa. Or pair it with a pear tart or clementines peeled and served in a martini glass over Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola. The 2009 Mad Cuvee is available in a half-bottle at about $21.
In 1970, Dick and Nancy Ponzi began their winery in Oregon. No one considered Oregon a good place to grow pinot noir yet, so they were pioneers and visionaries, and now they are one of America’s top pinot noir producers. Ponzi also makes excellent white wines like pinot gris, which is a mutation of pinot noir.
Luisa Ponzi took over the winemaking role from her father in 1993. She fermented the 2010 Ponzi Pinot Gris in stainless steel tanks; without any wood influence, the wine’s natural floral aroma and pear flavor were preserved. Its slightly off-dry finish makes it a nice aperitif, complements mildly spicy foods, and feels good at about $16.
Quivira Vineyards in California’s Sonoma Valley employes biodynamic farming, which the winery describes as a “peculiar dichotomy of scientific and spiritual principles”. Whatever the viewpoint, there is no denying that Quivira’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Fig Tree Vineyard is one of the best California sauvignon blancs I have tasted in years.
It’s exploding with pineapple and floral aromas, and its full body is bursting with tropical fruit flavors. Normally, this is a recipe for an unbalanced California wine, but Quivira sidesteps that pitfall by having the acidity of a first-rate Sancerre. That unifying aspect makes this a must-have wine. Serve the Quivira’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Fig Tree Vineyard with roasted pork, grilled quails wrapped in bacon, or red snapper, mahi-mahi, or striped bass. And at $19, it’s a bio-bargain.