The white-wine universe is full of surprises—great bottles from regions known for reds, complex Pinot Noirs without a trace of color and more. F&W's Ray Isle tells all.
The world's most famous wine regions tend to be known solely for reds, but the white wines they produce are usually more affordable and often extremely good.
2009 El Coto de Rioja Blanco ($10)
The limestone soils of Rioja Alavesa, situated at the southern edge of Basque country, help give this light-bodied white wine aromatic notes of flowers and spice.
- White wines have less alcohol than reds.
2009 Ostatu Blanco ($15)
Noted Bordeaux winemaker Hubert de Boüard of Château Angélus consults on Ostatu's wines, like this lime-scented white.
- Alcohol mostly depends on how ripe grapes are when picked. Color doesn't matter.
2008 Cune Monopole ($15)
This 100-percent Viura white from one of the top wineries in Rioja is reliably crisp and lemony. Its long, refreshing finish suggests fresh citrus peel.
2000 R. López de Heredia Viña Gravonia Blanco ($30)
R. López de Heredia, founded in 1877 and still owned by the same family, produces Rioja's greatest white wines, among them this exotically fragrant 10-year-old bottling.
2008 Chateau Bonnet ($13)
2007 Chateau de Fieuzal ($30)
De Fieuzal has surged in quality under winemaker Stephen Carrier. The '07 vintage has smoky lemon notes and a hint of fresh green herbs.
2009 Château Lamothe de Haux ($12)
About 20 percent of this Bordeaux is made from the somewhat obscure Muscadelle grape, which helps round out the tangy sharpness of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
2008 Château Graville-Lacoste ($18)
More Sémillon than Sauvignon Blanc in the blend gives this wine a rich honey-lemon aroma.
2008 Cascina Bongiovanni Arneis ($18)
A full-bodied style of Arneis, this white suggests ripe pears with a hint of orange blossom.
2008 La Scolca Gavi White Label ($20)
La Scolca began producing its bright, floral Gavi more than 90 years ago, long before the region got official DOC status in 1974.
2008 Bruno Broglia La Meirana Gavi ($22)
Old Cortese vines (the grape variety used for Gavi) provide the fruit for this tingly, lightly honeyed white.
2009 Ceretto Blangè Langhe Arneis ($26)
Blangè has a faint prickle on the tongue that makes its citrus fruit especially lively.