These fantastic bottles prove that you can (and should) drink white wine year round. 

By Brian Freedman
October 10, 2019

Just because autumn is here doesn’t mean that you need to stop drinking white wine. It just means that the pairings change—fewer crisp whites with grilled seafood and more of them with spaghetti and clams, cooked indoors—and that richer ones take on a greater sense of prominence. Here, then, are 20 standout bottles of white wine to enjoy as the cooler weather arrives. Honestly, any one of them would be great year-round, but these bottles seem particularly well-suited to this chillier time of year.

Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño 2017 Rías Baixas ($21)

This smells like the sea in the very best sense: Oyster shells, lemon zest, just the slightest hint of flowers it the background, perhaps a bit of warm hay or grass: It’s a savory expression of the variety. On the palate, each sip is concentrated and nervy with acidity, showcasing a layered mid-palate that carries flavors of hard stone fruit and mineral, all of it lingering through the long, almost briny finish. Bring on the raw seafood!

Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine 2018 Napa Valley ($50)

Joanna Salazar

The freshness of the nose here is so lithe, with aromas of apricot, white nectarine, grapefruit, and passionfruit wrapping themselves around a core of springtime flowers. All of this precedes a palate of notable concentration with flavors of hard pear, subtle sweet spice, and a quiet herbaceousness. With a simple dish of linguine and shrimp, it’ll be perfect. 

Chappellet Signature Chenin Blanc 2018 Napa Valley ($38)

What a fascinating nose, with almond skin and citrus pith as well as a bit of yellow apple, all preceding flavors of white grapefruit, hard stone fruits, a deep seam of minerality, and a finish that’s just the slightest bit salty, which makes this particularly excellent at the table. The texture is generous yet well-structured, and there’s lovely weight and propulsive energy to the palate. Excellent wine, and the dryness of the finish makes me want to have more and more. 

Grgich Hills Estate-Grown Fumé Blanc 2017 Napa Valley ($31)

© Rocco Ceselin

Somewhat reductive aromas of matchstick at first, but these blow off and reveal notes of yellow grapefruit and lemon pith, which turn to vivid, generous flavors of more yellow grapefruit, fresh-squeezed lemon, verbena, nectarine, and sweet spice at the edges, all of it carried on a generous palate with excellent concentration and terrific lime-like acidity. This is fantastic now, and promises several years of evolution in the cellar. The finish lingers in the most wonderful way. 

Component Wine Company Semillon 2018 Yount Mill Vineyard, Napa Valley ($68)

This rings in at just 11% alcohol, which is a brave and deeply respectable move. And nothing, clearly, has been lost in the production of the white wine with the lowest ABV on this entire list: The nose is utterly charming, with beeswax and honeysuckle leading the way for yellow plums and a hint of sweet spice, all preceding a beautifully structured palate with more of those yellow plums, as well as honey and a subtle hint of Marcona almonds. The finish is marked by the same well-calibrated floral note as the nose, lending each sip a real sense of symmetry. Generous lees-stirring has given it all an attractive creamy texture. 

Monticello Vin Gris de Pinot Noir 2016, Virginia ($20)

Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

Though technically a vin gris, this looks like a white wine. Its savory, rich preserved-lemon notes sparkle with verbena, lemon blossom, walnuts, and mashed Marcona almonds. On its own or alongside food, it’s a home run this time of year…or anytime, for that matter.

Eighty Four Albariño 2018 Carneros Napa Valley ($28)

Clean and pure as soon as you start sniffing it, with generous, almost autumnal notes of orchard fruit, as well as a bit of cantaloupe and mineral preceding a palate of both subtle weight and vibrant energy. Flavors of fennel seed, white licorice, yellow apple, and almond blossom are nervy and detailed through the finish. Made by the legendary Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez. 

Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino en Rama 10th Anniversary Edition ($26.99)

Courtesy of Gonzalez Byass

What an incredible and deeply evocative nose, concentrated and tugged through with lemon peel, leather, white tea, and cigar humidor, as well as notes of yeast and the sea. On the palate, this is a riot of hay, yeast, a distinctly maritime note, and bright, fresh squeezes of lemon and lemon oils. Dry flowers, mashed pistachios, and Marcona almonds round out this powerful, fennel-bulb-flecked wonder. 

Folded Hills Estate White Wine 2017 Santa Ynez Valley ($60)

Rich yet not overwhelming, this vanilla-flecked Roussanne shows flavors of guava, beeswax, and a bit of honeysuckle on the finish. I could drink this all autumn long.

Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 2016 ($26)

Courtesy of Inama

Quite a serious profile on the nose, with savory notes of lemon pith and zest, fennel fronds, and slightly honeyed pecans turning to a palate of d’Anjou pears, beeswax, orange blossom, and white cardamom, all carried on a lush texture with lots of energy and concentration. This is an excellent example of how serious Soave can be.

Michel Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc 2017 Côtes du Roussillon ($15)

Distinctly waxy aromas are joined by white tea, flint, spice, and a hint of yellow plum, and turn to flavors of beeswax, honeysuckle, white licorice, hard pear, and spice that rings through on the finish, where that licorice peeks back in. As always, this is a remarkable value, and a wine of serious pleasure. 

Mi Sueño Chardonnay 2016 Los Carneros ($42)

Mi Sueño Winery

Rich and exceptionally generous (yet balanced!) notes of buttered popcorn are joined by grilled pineapple, fresh-baked cornbread, baked apples, and mashed fennel bulbs. On the palate, it has all the richness you’d want in a Chardonnay of this style, all the generosity, yet with a sense of balance to the plushness that is transfixing. Flavors of baked apple, salted caramel, graham crackers, and lemon blossoms are detailed and come in waves, lingering through the long finish. 

Moss Wood Chardonnay 2017 Wilyabrup, Margaret River, Australia ($65)

Frances Andrijich

There is an entire universe in the nose here, which dances with baba au rhum, grilled pineapple, gunflint minerality, lemon clotted cream, white peach, and cobbler shell. It’s every bit as impressive when you take the first sip, with a distinctly savory edge to the otherwise broad flavors of charred vanilla pod, nectarine, lemon marmalade, and cantaloupe, all of it framed with fascinating spice notes (white cardamom and baking spice, primarily) and the rind in a jar of orange marmalade. The finish is long and generous, flecked with flowers and almonds, and remains impeccably balanced and concentrated throughout. Absolutely stunning. 

Mount Edward Riesling 2017 Central Otago, New Zealand ($19)

This brilliant (and wildly affordable) Riesling from the southernmost wine region on the planet practically leaps from the glass with apricot, nectarine, and orange blossom, yet finds a beautiful sense of anchoring with finely cut mineral notes that seems to have been lifted directly from the slate soils in which it grows. 

Peteglia Vermentino 2018 Montecucco, Tuscany

Peteglia

This is an intriguing wine, the grapes for which were harvested in October, when the skins had turned orange. After pressing, the juice was allowed to remain in contact with those skins before being run off and fermented. The result is a transportingly aromatic wine singing with orange blossom and mineral, and a concentrated, slightly salty palate flecked with flavors of melon rind, orange blossom, and nuts. The finish reminds me of gun flint in the best possible sense. This is excellent, and a great indication of the supremely exciting things that are happening in Montecucco right now.

Ponzi Pinot Gris 2017 Willamette Valley ($19)

Courtesy of Ponzi Vineyards

White flowers and honey on the nose are complicated by lemon and lemon pith. On the palate, this shows lemon, sweet spice, honeysuckle, and white mountain flowers, as well as a bit of lemon curd and white tea. 

Sidebar Mokelumne River Kerner 2017 Lodi ($25)

Courtesy of Sidebar Cellars

With mouthwatering acidity reminiscent of passionfruit, and a finish that fans out with flavors of pistachios, fresh-squeezed lemon, and a hint of spice, this is a wine that seems to embody the transition from summer to autumn in a particularly visceral manner. A serious yet joyous wine from David Ramey, and while the 2018 is the current release, this previous vintage demonstrates that his interpretation of Kerner has the structure and stuffing to benefit from a bit of bottle age. Excellent. 

Story of Soil Gruner Veltliner 2018 Fiddlestix Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills ($30)

Such clean, well-defined aromas of lime zest, lentils, and warm stones precede a super-energetic palate that shimmers with saline minerality, lemon-lime, bright lemon blossom, and a hint of those lentils from the nose, which really gain traction on the bone-dry and unexpectedly lengthy finish. Excellent wine. Alongside pan-seared trout, this will absolutely sing.

Vietti Roero Arneis 2017 ($23)

Graham cracker pie crust aromas are charmingly unexpected and tinged with a hint of quince, leading to a palate of energy and herbal aromatics, as well as jasmine, orange blossom, and lemon drops. Proof that Roero Arneis remains one of the great heroes of the world of Italian white wine.

William Chris Vineyards “Mary Ruth” White Wine 2017 Texas ($28)

Kirsten Kaiser

This blend of Malvasia Bianca, Blanc du Bois, and Muscat Blanc may not read as terribly cool-weather-appropriate on paper, but the extra year of bottle age has allowed an unexpectedly savory side to emerge from the otherwise generously floral and sweetly spiced tangerine-driven aromas and flavors. There is also a hit of white tea and gunflint, as well as white-blossomed flowers and preserved lemon, that make it perfect for an autumn day that still retains some of the heat of the summer.

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