TJ’s Wine Insider is your go-to guide for Trader Joe’s wines…
Is white the absence or presence of color? Depends. When covering a canvas with milky clouds, fewer colors are definitely more; White pigment is empty of every hue.
In lighting terms, the opposite’s true. Taking a counter-intuitive turn, the purest white beam reflects the full rainbow range. Illuminating.
What of white wine? Depends whom you ask. Some take it as a trifling tipple. Compared to rich reds, some call whites monochromatic, even absent of color. We couldn’t agree less.
For starters, wines fermented sans grape skins literally show sundry yellow shades—from pale straw to deep gold. For finishers, whites portray an array of evocative profiles.
Making our case, we shine a light on five white wines—from places you might not expect, made from grapes you may never have tried. A brilliant spectrum is present here. While mostly dry in style, these wines vary from crisp and refreshing to elegant and racy to fruity and floral. We’ve even thrown in some bubbles.
Before your summer days drift away, visit our stores to sample this selection of Summer Whites. Tell me more, tell me more, you say? Well, all right, then!
Region: Hungary PDO
Hungry for white wine? Hungary’s not a bad place to start. The Grüner Veltliner grape [say: GROO-ner FELT-lih-ner] probably made its first appearance in northernmost Italy, on the western fringes of Central Europe. Over time, the grape was cultivated farther east in Austria where most of the world’s GrüVE (as it’s called by the hippest sommeliers) is now grown. If you know your Central European geography, you’ll know the modern Hungarian-grown grapes in our exclusive Floriana Grüner Veltliner aren’t far from their roots. Still obscure-ish compared to, say, Sauvignon Blanc, this grape varietal is quite often obtainable by-the-glass in finer restaurants. That’s no surprise, since Grüve’s general character—expressed in this crisp, very dry wine’s fresh and lively notes of green apple, peach, and white pepper—is easily companionable with varied cuisines. If you’re craving Chardonnay, don’t make this your first choice. If a Sauvignon Blanc is on your mind, you won’t be disappointed. Hungary—for white wine!
Floriana Grüner Veltliner PDO is currently available in Trader Joe’s stores where wine is sold. It is $5.99 plus tax unless otherwise noted here: CA: $4.99; FL, GA, KY, NM: $6.49; AL: $6.99; NH, OH: $7.99. Alcohol availability & price may vary due to state laws, taxes, shipment fees & other such stuff.
Region: Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal
Here’s another with crisp, refreshing character. This time, the provenance is Portugal—more specifically, the Vinho Verde region in the north. Interestingly (perhaps confusingly), Vinho Verde not only refers to the appellation of this wine, but also to the particular wine style. (In other words, there are other wines from the Vinho Verde region, but they are called by different names.) What’s in a name, anyway? Vinho Verde literally means “green wine,” though it doesn’t appear greenish in your glass. This pale straw-yellow wine is green, as in “young.” It’s not one for your cellar. Comprised of a 70/30 blend of Loureiro and Trajadura grapes, Espiral Vinho Verde is easy to quaff and one of our best sellers. It’s dry, but not so much so, boasting bright, zippy notes of green apple and melon. These flavors are delivered with an easy acidity and an unexpected effervescence. That’s right… bubbles! Green also means “Go!” (even in Portugal), which is your cue to visit our stores for a bottle of this fresh, summertime wine.
Espiral Vinho Verde DOC is currently available in Trader Joe’s stores where wine is sold. It is $4.49 plus tax unless otherwise noted here: AZ, CO, FL, ID, KY, ME, NV, OR, SC, TX, VA & WA: $4.99; NH, NM, OH & AL: $5.49. Alcohol availability & price may vary due to state laws, taxes, shipment fees & other such stuff.
Region: Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France
Known today mostly for its reds, Bordeaux was once a region where white vines (mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) vastly outnumbered red. While this is certainly not the case today, the white wine tradition goes back centuries. In fact, Chateau de Sequin (say: SUH-kahn) from which this wine comes, dates all the way back to 780. One of the largest and oldest estates in the Entre-Deux-Mers* sub-region, Sequin produces a refined, Old-World style white. Go figure. 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, cultivated in rich terroir—between the Garonne and Dordogne—yield a style of wine that is elegant and racy. (Think light and tart, rather than thick and creamy.) As a seasoned Sauv Blanc drinker might expect, one can detect citrus and floral notes here, namely grapefruit and white flowers, with a little white peach nosing in. As Bordeaux whites are harder to find, we like to consider Sauvignon de Sequin a glimmering summer treasure of sorts.
*Entre-Deux-Mers (say: ONT-deu-MAIR) means “between two rivers.”
Sauvignon de Sequin Bordeaux AOC is currently available in Trader Joe’s stores where wine is sold. It is $6.99 plus tax unless otherwise noted here: CA: $5.99; AL: $7.99; NH: $8.99; OH: $9.99. Alcohol availability & price may vary due to state laws, taxes, shipment fees & other such stuff.
Region: Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine AOP, Loire Valley, France
North of Bordeaux, farther up the Atlantic coast of France (near Nantes) lie the vignobles (“vineyards”) of Muscadet (say: muss-kuh-DAY). Also known as Melon de Bourgogne—or simply, Melon—this varietal takes us once again off the well-worn path of common whites. As with the other novel grapes we’ve encountered, Muscadet (unrelated to Muscato) is well worth the temporary loss of our bearings. Of the three official Melon-growing regions, Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine is the most prolific and revered appellation. Vinified with respect for Loire Valley tradition, Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet is matured sur lie (“on the lees”) for at least a winter. This aging in the presence of deceased yeast particles takes the dry, fruity Muscadet to a softer, creamier texture. Though all of our Summer Whites should be served chilled, this one captivates when super cold. Ironically, you won’t get any melon (fruit) notes in this wine. What you will get is a supreme seafood partner, perfect palate cleanser, and classic cooking wine.
Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet AOP is currently available in Trader Joe’s stores where wine is sold. It is $6.99 plus tax unless otherwise noted here: AL & NH: $7.99; OH: $8.99. Alcohol availability & price may vary due to state laws, taxes, shipment fees & other such stuff.
Region: Gavi DOCG, Piedmont, Italy
The Piedmontese are proud of Gavi, named after the small commune in the province of Alessandria, an hour or so north of Genoa. Whites from Piedmont are often overshadowed by popular Barolos and Barbarescos—respected reds of the same region—though we think this shouldn’t be so. Those are worthy wines, but so is Rosa dell’ Olmo Gavi, made by top winemakers (in Barolo!) who pride themselves in producing only wines specified to be of the highest Italian quality. 100% Cortese grapes, sourced from the classic Cortese-growing area, yield an outstanding food wine. Its style is elegant, fresh, and semi-dry, with crisp acidity. Bright citrus and floral notes are accented by hints of anise and herb, departing the tongue with a dry, but still fruity exit. This Gavi, exclusive to Trader Joe’s, is intricate, but always approachable. Are you wondering what would make that special summer meal complete? The answer is Gavi. Pop the cork and place it on the table (on your porch) for al fresco dining at its finest.
Rosa dell’ Olmo Gavi DOCG is currently available in Trader Joe’s stores where wine is sold, except (sadly) in OH. Where available, it is $7.99 plus tax unless otherwise noted here: CA: $6.99; AL: $8.99. Alcohol availability & price may vary due to state laws, taxes, shipment fees & other such stuff.