Spring Fling: six bargain bottles of lesser-known whites

Spring Fling: six bargain bottles of lesser-known whites

Now’s the time to experiment with fragrant, refreshing, lesser-known whites


As the weather starts to warm I turn to crisp, high-acid white wines to rouse my ­palate out of winter hibernation. There are plenty of unsung white grape varieties that offer the same brace and quench as the more familiar rieslings, sauvignon blancs and pinot grigios—and most are great bargains precisely because they are unfamiliar.

1 Cono Sur 2014 Bicicleta Viognier
$9.95 | Chile | 89 points

This is the best white wine buy at the LCBO. It’s lighter than most viogniers, but what it lacks in weight it makes up for with brightness and perfumed aromas of star anise, lavender and white pepper. It’s a fine solo sipper, but also nice with fruit salad and soft cheese. LCBO 64287

2 Brumont 2013 Gros Manseng Sauvignon Blanc
$12.95 | France | 88 points

Gros manseng is an exotic grape that adds guava, kiwi, pineapple and orange blossom lift to sauvignon blanc’s herbaceousness. Brumont’s is mid-weight and brisk, with a bitter green chestnut peel finish. It’s a great match for spicy Asian dishes. LCBO 297234

3 Dopff & Irion 2013 Crystal d’Alsace Sylvaner
$12.95 | Alsace, France | 88 points

Sylvaner is the shy sibling of riesling and gewürztraminer. The ripe melon and quince jam fruit, the candle wax and caraway seed aromas, and the rich yet firm structure combine to make a versatile food wine. I like it with ham, white asparagus or seafood. LCBO 35667

4 Fteri 2013 Moschofilero
$14.95 | Arcadia, Greece | 88 points

The moschofilero grape is the most aromatic of all Greek varieties. Fteri’s smells like orange blossom, spearmint and fennel, with a salty, kelp-like note. It’s lively and fresh, and the long finish is reminiscent of fresh-squeezed lime. It’s excellent with calamari or mussels. LCBO 392936

5 Marqués de Riscal 2014 Rueda
$12.20 | Rueda, Spain | 88 points

The limestone-soiled Rueda region northwest of Madrid produces this sprightly white made with the verdejo grape. The nose shows grapefruit, lime, white pepper and passion fruit. It’s light-bodied and a natural pairing for ceviche, but drinks just as well on its own. LCBO 36822

6 Masi 2013 Masianco
$15 | Veneto, Italy | 88 points

Masi’s Masianco blend offers the same easy-drinking freshness as pinot grigio but adds blossomy lift and palate weight with the indigenous verduzzo grape. Bright, with pineapple and lilac notes and mouth-watering acidity, it’s nice with seafood pastas. LCBO 620773