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The Cellar: Delicious White Wines Under $20

Friday, August 02, 2013


Get the most bang for your buck with these quality wines that won't cost a bundle.

With the weather being as warm as it has been, it is hard to have too many chilled bottles whites at the ready. With that in mind I thought I would focus on two regions that are capable of producing tremendous values in white wine–all you have to do is to know what to look for.

2007 Helfrich Pinot Gris, Alsace, France

One of my all-time favorite regions for white wines is Alsace. And I know what you’re thinking; Alsace isn’t exactly famous for making cheap wine. This is true. But Rhode Island is a small State; sometimes rare, unusual, old or unique wines are found hiding on an importers or distributors shelf and like that become available. Like this week’s first featured white; the $19ish 2007 Pinot Gris from the 100+ year old Helfrich Estate, which I found at ‘Wines & More’ in Cranston.

Unlike most Pinot Grigio’s, which are meant to be light and refreshing, Pinot Gris’ are usually deeper, denser, more serious wines. Because of this increased level in concentration, body and (sometimes) sugar, most well-made Pinot Gris’ are able to age for 5-10 years with no problem–some can even age decades more than that. I other words; if you find a Pinot Gris with some age to it, buy it! The ’07 Helfrich turned out to be a real treat becoming increasingly complex (and a hair sweeter) with every passing hour. Rich flavors of ripe pears and apricot dominate but a mouth cleansing acidity on the finish keeps it all in balance. Outstanding!

2011 Pazo De Lusco Zios, Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain

Another great wine region that produces stellar white wines which are a bit cheaper–usually available for around $10-$15–is Spain’s Rías Baixas. Rías Baixas is located in Galicia to the northwest, a region of Spain known for sunny days, lush green hillsides and for making great, seafood friendly white wines. Here the white grape variety Albariño rules the landscape covering almost 90% of all vineyards making wines that range in style from light, with refreshing acidity and bright citrus flavors to richer, medium bodied wines with more tropical fruit aromas and flavors.

This week’s example is the 2011 Zios from the 14-acre Bodega Pazo De Lusco. These folks specialize in quality Albariño of which they make three different kinds. Their entry-level Zios is a medium-bodied example having been aged on the lees for three months after fermentation. It displays ripe pears and honeydew. There is a hint of orange as well with zingy citrus fruit on the finish. This is a well-made wine–rich in flavor and soft on the palate. Try it with succulent scallops in lemon sauce–I did.



Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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