On choosing white wines

October 28, 1990|By Michael Dresser

Here are some recommendations of fine wines and buying strategies for white wines.


Chardonnay was perhaps the most disappointing category. Not one chardonnay could crack the Top 20, and many were appallingly mediocre. Even the wines that were good were afflicted by a boring sameness.

Especially weak were the "fighting varietal" 1989 chardonnayfrom California. Many of the wines were virtually stripped of all flavor, indicating either severe overcropping or aggressive filtration to counteract the rampant rot that afflicted the vintage.

Among the best:

1989 Montrose Chardonnay, Mudgee, Australia ($9.99).

Other fine wines: 1989 Napa Ridge Central Coast Chardonna($6.49); 1990 Lindemans Southeastern Australia Chardonnay, Bin 65 ($8.69); 1989 Meadow Glen Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($9.99); 1989 Oxford Landing South Australian Chardonnay ($6.99); 1989 Boordy Chardonnay, Maryland ($9.99); 1988 Foppiano Chardonnay, Russian River ($8.50).

1989 R. H. Phillips California Chardonnay ($4.99); 1989 ColumbiCrest Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington ($7.59); 1989 Round Hill House Chardonnay, California ($6.99); 1989 Riverside Farm Chardonnay, California ($6).

Dry whites

These are the world's alternatives to ABC -- Another Boring Chardonnay. They range from a spectacular Muscadet that tastes like a still version of Bollinger Champagne to three Maryland seyval blancs that outclass almost every chardonnay tasted.

Among the best:

1988 Chateau du Cleray Muscadet de Sevre et Maine, Sur Li($8.59).

1985 Montbray Seyve-Villard, Maryland ($6.99).

1988 Trimbach Pinot Blanc, Alsace ($8.69).

1985 Chateau Ste. Michelle Fume Blanc, Washington ($7.89).

1988 Basignani Seyval, Maryland ($5.49).

1989 Boordy Seyval Blanc, Sur Lie Reserve, Maryland (about $7).

1989 Konocti Fume Blanc, Lake County ($7).

1986 Foppiano Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley (about $6).

1988 Pierre Sparr Riesling, Alsace ($8.49).

Other fine wines: 1989 Dry Creek Chenin Blanc ($5.99); 198Trimbach Riesling, Alsace ($8.99); 1989 Black Marlin Semillon-Chardonnay, Mark Cashmore Wines, Australia ($7.59); 1988 Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris, Alsace ($9.19).

1988 Collection Michel Sebeo Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine ($5.99)Domaine de Rieux, Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne ($4.99); Trefethen Eshcol White, non-vintage ($6.69); 1988 Hugel Riesling, Alsace ($8.59); Bel Arbors Founder's Selection American -- Grown Sauvignon Blanc ($5.49); 1989 Buena Vista ** Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County ($7.99).

Off-dry whites

With two exceptions, one of them a Maryland-grown masterpiece, this category was dominated by the wines of Germany. And the wines of Germany, at least as far as this region is concerned, are dominated by one man -- master importer Terry Thiese.

The German wines I tasted basically served to confirm mlong-held and often-stated impression that Mr. Thiese's name on a bottle of German wine is a virtual guarantee of quality. So while only a few are listed here, all Terry Thiese Selections, dozens more could have been contenders if there had been the money and the stamina to taste them all.

Among the best:

1987 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Qualitatswein, Joh. Jos. Christoffel-Erben, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($5.99).

1989 Byrd Gewurztraminer, Maryland ($8.39).

1988 Niersteiner Orbel Riesling Spatlese, J. und H. A. StrubRheinhessen ($7.99).

1987 Ayler Kupp Riesling Hochgewachs, KrampMosel-Saar-Ruwer ($6.59).

Other fine wines: 1988 Husch Chenin Blanc, Mendocino Count($8.59); 1988 Selbach-Oster Riesling Hochgewachs, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($8.49); 1988 Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Qualitatswein, J & H Selbach, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($5.99).

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