Thursday, March 21, 2013

Virginia White Grape Varietals to Watch

By now most VAVINO fans know our signature varietals: Cab Franc, Viognier, Norton, Chambourcin. But there are new wines cropping up in several tasting rooms throughout the Commonwealth that are poised to be the next big things in the state.

Offered by several wineries in lieu of Viognier, Albariño is a Spanish white varietal, typically crisp and dry with notes of apricot. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity with relatively low alcohol levels, making it a great hot weather wine.
Where to try it: Willowcroft Vineyards, Chrysalis Vineyards, Lake Anna Winery

Roussanne is a white wine grape grown originally in the Rhône wine region in France. It too is similar to Viognier, not only in its crispness and acidity, but also due to its vulnerability to mildew, poor resistance to drought and wind, and irregular yields. But some Virginia wineries are experimenting with it: North Gate Vineyard, Chester Gap Cellars, and Horton Vineyards.

Petit Manseng
Another white varietal that is taking many wineries by storm (even more so than the more difficult to grow Albariño and Roussanne). This is a semi-sweet, high alcohol wine, with origins in southwest France. Typical Petit Mansengs offer notes of pear and grapefruit. Some of our favorite Petit Manseng’s can be found at Paradise Springs Winery, Pearmund Cellars, and Lazy Days Winery.

Three unique whites to try in Virginia tasting rooms, with others on the way, such as Rkatsiteli and Chenin blanc. It will be interesting to see the public’s reaction to these wines, and if any will eventually replace viognier as the signature Virginia white.

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