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The 10 Best American White Wines to Try in 2021
The American white wine market is dominated by chardonnay grapes. The best quality bottles tend to come in this style, however, there’s an increasing focus from wine drinkers on other white wine types such as pinot gris and sauvignon blanc.
You’ll also find that sparkling wines and dessert wines such as moscato are also becoming increasingly popular as American consumers look for versatility and interesting flavors (orange wine anyone?).
The following collection of the best American white wines to try features different varietals at a range of price points. You can be comfortable choosing the right wine for entertaining, dining, or even inexpensive casual drinking without having to go to a wine tasting course to know what you’re drinking.
1. Ramey Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay 2017
David Ramey is a master vintner and legend of the US winemaking scene. Any one of his great wine expressions could have led this list because of their terroir, taste, and accessibility.
The winegrowers of Fort Ross-Seaview believe that this part of Sonoma County features the ideal combination of sunshine and cool sea air for producing high-quality chardonnay and pinot noir wine. The Ramey Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay is the perfect balance of power and elegance, offering a dynamic fusion of floral aromas, citrus and tropical fruit flavors, along with the influence of French oak.
The sea salt of the Charles Valley vineyard (just two miles from the Pacific) is evident in the grapes, helping provide subtle accents alongside ripe fruit and complex floral notes. The unique aspects of the Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay make it a great bottle for entertaining or a romantic dinner out at your favorite seafood restaurant.
2. Lail Vineyards, Georgia Sauvignon Blanc 2018
This 2018 Georgia Sauvignon Blanc from Lail Vineyards is a beautiful premium white wine fermented and aged for 19 months in French oak barrels.
It has tasting notes of pink grapefruit, white peaches, and citrus peel, with hints of coriander seed and honeysuckle. The palate continues the stone fruit and citrus layers up to a lingering zesty finish.
It’s an amazingly layered and rich white wine that falls almost perfectly between dry and sweet. It’s as good a sauvignon blanc as you’ll find in the Napa Valley, or the rest of the US for that matter.
3. Sutter Home Chardonnay
Chardonnay is the most popular wine varietal in North America, so to be this popular as an independent means Sutter Home is doing it well. Inexpensive but dependable, Sutter Home has a good range of white wines that suit the budget wine lover looking for an easy-drinking white.
This chardonnay provides good value and some versatility on the palate. This bottle features a medium to full body and a buttery mouthfeel that works nicely alongside flavors of summer fruits like apple and pear.
If you’ve got a limited budget and are looking for a cheap and cheerful option to drink with a home cooked meal, you’ll struggle to find a better option than Sutter Home at this end of the market. You can also go smaller, with a four-pack of small bottles, or larger with a 1.5-liter variety to suit your needs.
4. Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2018
This top-quality natural wine from Grgich Hills is a full-throated and intense chardonnay from the Napa Valley, and another string to the bow of esteemed winemaker Mike Grgich. The Estate Chardonnay is full-bodied and redolent with flavors of stone fruit and the orchard, honeysuckle, hazelnuts, and a smattering of white pepper.
Grgich Hills Estate is a classic vintage chardonnay, cleanly structured and layered on the tongue. It suits the enthusiast with a chardonnay savvy palate who is looking to share a strong example of taste without going overboard on price.
5. King Estate Domaine Pinot Gris 2018
King Estate is a sustainably-farmed certified organic vineyard complex and state-of-the-art winery situated at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, Oregon, which is becoming a beautiful white wine grape growing region.
The pinot gris (also known as pinot grigio) grape is a particularly strong varietal for the area. This excellent natural wine from King Estate features the boldness, acidity, and structure that is the best of this type of grape.
The 2018 pinot grigio selection is mineral-rich and redolent of summer fruit flavors like peach, mandarin orange, and pear, with just a touch of lemon acidity.
There’s plenty of opportunities to match a perfectly chilled bottle of the Domaine Pinot Gris (or King Estate’s similarly excellent pinot noir) with sustainably sourced and grown cuisine from the local area.
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6. Tatomer Oliver's Vineyard Riesling 2018
This single-vineyard expression from the Central Coast of California is an excellent riesling, reminiscent of the best in dry wines from Germany. Tatomer Oliver’s Vineyard Riesling is a lovely dry white wine with beautiful citrus aromas and a complex flavor profile belying its price point.
The stony textures and lemon scents are all there, and its sensible dryness means it will suit a wine lover looking to enjoy a crisp, more versatile version over a dessert wine style riesling. If you’re looking for a good quality riesling for drinking with fresh seafood or Thai, this Tatomer bottle will suit your meal perfectly.
7. Decoy Sonoma County Chardonnay
Decoy is the inexpensive arm of the leading Duckhorn wine portfolio and offers a range of quality white and red wine at good prices. This tasty, approachable Sonoma County Chardonnay offers vibrant aromas of apple, pear, and lemon zest, with hints of honeysuckle and ripe apricot.
The orchard fruit flavor continues on the tongue, where it is cut with refreshing acidity and hints of French oak. This gives the wine a nice complexity of texture that leads towards a bright, lingering finish.
A quintessential chardonnay, Decoy offers a quality bottle ideally suited for taking to dinner parties or restaurants across a range of culinary options. It’s also handy if you get stuck and need to pull a drinkable bottle of wine out of the fridge on short notice!
8. Antiquum Farm Daisy Pinot Gris 2019
Again, Oregon is a great place for quality pinot gris wines. This Daisy Pinot Gris from Antiquum Farm offers summer citrus, apple, and tropical fruit notes. It’s fresh and fruit-forward being a 2019 vintage, but it’s a great expression that balances rich flavor with acidity and a beautifully layered texture underneath.
You can tell the more personal, hand-grown cluster approach from Antiquum winemaker Stephen Hagen translates to a quality unique pinot gris wine.
9. Orin Swift Blank Stare Sauvignon Blanc
As far as sauvignon blanc goes, this is an intense and powerful version that runs counter to a lot of white wine narratives. This big and boozy sauvignon blanc from winemaker Dave Phinney of Orin Swift Cellars (who are famous for their kick-ass bottle art) is bottled at 15.7% ABV, and you can really taste it in the wine.
Blank Stare is full of rich citrus and pineapple along with grapefruit and smidgeon of butterscotch from oak resting. The acidity is a great contrast to the fruit on the palate, and the finish is satisfyingly energetic for a wine of this type.
A good bottle at a mid-tier price, you’ll find the Orin Swift Blank Stare will suit a sauvignon blanc enthusiast who appreciates a slight change in atmosphere from more standard options.
10. Mirassou Moscato 2018
The dessert wine moscato is taking off in worldwide popularity, and the US is starting to craft more of the variety, which comes from the aromatic muscat grape. This low alcohol offering from Mirassou – only 7.5% ABV – makes it an inexpensive bottle with a rich ripe fruit flavor that’s just perfect for the sweet wine lover.
It’s an ideal dessert wine to enjoy by the small glass or for the occasional drinker looking to pair something simple with the spice of an Asian food dish.
Bonus Sparkling Wine: J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut
J Cuvée 20 Brut is a sparkling wine blend of 51% chardonnay, 41% pinot noir, and 8% pinot meunier grapes. Sure, it’s not champagne but at the perfect price point for a low-key celebration, it doesn’t have to be.
The lovely dryness brought by the bubbles works well to contrast the sweetness of tangerine and green apple. There’s a bite on the tongue balanced by summer fruit notes of berries and lemon, with an enjoyably lively finish.
Pair this classy sparkling wine with some Asian-style samplers, creamy Hors D’oeuvres, or a simple cheese platter and your guests will love it.
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White Wine FAQs
The domestic American white wine market is dominated by chardonnay grapes, mostly those grown in the Napa Valley and Central California. The tremendous varieties range from dry white wine to semi-sweet versions of chardonnay, at price points under $10 through to expensive bottles worth hundreds of dollars.
The US white wine market is seeing growth in the pinot gris/pinot grigio market. It seems to be well suited to conditions north of California, in Oregon.
Sauvignon Blanc is a popular and versatile white wine while Riesling and Chenin blanc grapes are popular as well. The growth of sparkling wine and sweet white wine means there are a lot more people drinking moscato, which usually comes at a lower alcohol volume.
As a super sweet wine with a heavy fruit base (similar to brandy in many ways), moscato is not really a wine to be paired with main courses. Moscato’s sweetness makes it perfect for desserts or as an aperitif, while the sparkling wine version is well suited to appetizers and finger food.
While they both have bubbles and in some cases taste the same, sparkling wine and champagne are different. Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region of France. It’s the same protection of origin afforded to Cognac (also France), or Rhum Agricole (Martinique).
Sparkling wine can be produced and bottled anywhere else in the world, it just can’t be champagne.