food 03.2.12

21 Whites Under $21

We love Alsace like crazy, no less its wines, and for many years they were among the best white bargains around. These days there are fewer steals than there used to be. Even if this Leon Beyer Pinot Blanc 2007 isn't a steal, it's agreeable and works well with food that's not heavily spiced. $14.99, 67 Wine.

There aren't many meals where a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from New Zealand wouldn't be a comfortable fit. Crispness is all. $11.99 at Gotham.

Desert island wines for us will probably always be Rhônes. The grape in the Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage 2008, $19 at Pour, is Marsanne, which means melon, minerals, a whiff of almond. Delicious.

Oh Long Island, is there nothing you won't do? Who would combine Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewürztraminer? Sounds all Joey Buttafuoco to us. Yet we're wrong. See: 2008 Bouké, $17.99 at Beacon.

From Germany's Pfalz region, the Bassermann-Jordan Riesling, $16.49 at Garnet, does the grape proud, and well it should: the family here has been making wines for over three centuries. Bright, low alcohol, food-friendly.

Oregon delivers with this one: the A to Z Pinot Gris 2009, $14.99 at K & D Wines, has all the tropical fruits in the nose and pear on the tongue you could want.

From South Africa's Western Cape, a touch of the Loire with Man Vintner's Chenin Blanc, proving the grape food-friendly no matter where in the world it lands. $8.99 at Vintage Grape.

The Villa Solais 2009, $13.95 at Morrell, is a crisp, minerally, Sardinian delight, particularly when paired with seafood.

A French oenologist works with the Chilean winery Casa Lapostolle and the Chardonnay 2008 is the happy result. Park Avenue Liquor, $15. Ripe, forward, solid.

Muscadet doesn't have the cachet it should; maybe it's too old school. Paired with seafood, you've got a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers synergy, old school that will rock until the end of time. Case in point the 2010 Pepiere Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine at Crush, $14.99, brimming with minerals and lemon from the Loire.

Astor Wines is exactly right about the Portuguese Vinho Verde, Provam 2009—you want just about any seafood with it, though a simple grilled chicken works, too. A memorable wine? No. Solid? Yes. $7.96

Len de l'El is not a grape you come across very often, but you'll be happy to make the acquaintance of the Southwestern France varietal. The spellings vary (and include Loin de l'Oeil), the character is more consistent: a citrus nose, low acidity, easy drinking. The Mayragues 2009 Gaillac Blanc Classique from Chamber Street Wines is $11.99.

The Albert Seltz Riesling, $17 at Bottlerocket, is another Alsatian, this one a Riesling. Keep in mind that Alsatian rieslings are dry and this one has enough acidity to make it pair up with all kinds of meals—fish, yes, but many pastas, too. The winery is now fully organic.

You don't find Burgundies made of Sauvignon Blanc grapes except when you do. The exception is Saint Bris and the Jean-Marc Brocard is a good example. Steely, grass and herbs, plays well with food. $15 at Bottlerocket.

You also don't find many wines with a cause. Do good by drinking well with The People's Sauvignon Blanc, $9.96 at Astor Wines. Drinks fine, true to the grape, and a portion of the sales goes to environmental causes.

Casa de Mouraz Encruzado 2010, a Portuguese crowd-pleaser with a big footprint. It's a superb Dão ambassador, organic and biodynamic to boot. $16.99 at Appellation.

Albariños from northwestern Spain are one of the best ways we know to take the edge off New York's warm-weather humidity; given that winter didn't show up this winter, you might as well stock up now on the Martin Codax Albarino 2008, $14.99, NY Wine Exchange. There's apple, acidity and good minerality, making it work well with spicy foods.

The Annabella Chardonnay Napa 2010 California Wine Merchants, $15.99, offers excellent value for dollar. Very nicely balanced and they keep the alcohol in check, too—13.5%—rather than 14+% or even 15%, a trend that makes little sense to us.

At Warehouse Wines, the Pascual Toso Torrontés for $7.99, from Argentina's Mendoza region, is a steal. The aromatic torrontés grapes produces pale golden-hued wines and a crisp, citrus quaffer.

Even if Bodegas Muga is better known for their Rioja, their well-rounded Viura/Malvasia blend (90/10) has a pleasing floral bouquet and plenty of fruit. Smith and Vine, $18.

The Laurent Miquel Chardonnay Viognier 2010 is a sunny marriage from a young Languedoc winemaker who handles the grapes carefully—and it shows. The Greene Grape, $9.50.


New York City

recent entries

Food and Spirits Gifts, Every Person in New York

Food Notes

Book Land: Food, Flickr Pool Picks

See all articles in FOOD

Get a daily dose of MUG
right in your Inbox.