Favorite White Wines of 2021

by artfuldiner on December 23, 2021

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Wine

Wine 3I tasted an interesting variety of wines in 2021, including several outstanding vintages during a recent sojourn to Greece and the Greek Islands. Of those, 5 white and 5 red are particularly recommended. My favorite white wines of 2021 are listed below.

Please note that prices quoted are approximate, depending upon where the wines are purchased; and, of course, all are subject to change. The prices in states other than Pennsylvania can vary significantly from retailer to retailer. So, it would certainly be to your advantage to spend some time surfing online for the best price point.

Grgich Hills Chardonnay 20172017 Grgich Hills Estate Grown Chardonnay (California): Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, a native of Croatia, was the winemaker behind the iconic 1973 Chateau Montelena, which triumphed over the French at the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976. And while you may not be able to sample the original 1973 Chateau Montelena, a bottle of which now resides in the Smithsonian, you can still discover why Mike Grgich has come to be known as the King of Chardonnay.”

His 2017 Grgich Hills Estate Grown Chardonnay, which recently received 93 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, is a wine that is easy to love. It is medium-bodied, rich & sumptuous, and decidedly elegant on the palate. Reminiscent of a fine white Burgundy, it is available from various sources online at a fraction of the price. Retailing in the $35.00 – $45.00 range, the lowest price I’ve seen online is $34.00 per bottle (plus shipping) from Nicholas Wines, https://www.nicholaswines.com, in Red Bank, New Jersey.


Ken Forrester2018 Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc (South Africa): South Africa grows more chenin blanc than the rest of the world combined. The best South African wines are produced in the Stellenbosch region, just 25 miles east of Cape Town… And, located on the slopes of the scenic Helderberg Mountains, the vineyards of Ken Forrester Wines are considered by locals and wine lovers as the home of chenin blanc. The man himself, affectionately known as “Mr. Chenin Blanc,” who has become the ambassador for South Africa’s most widely planted varietal, seems a little bit larger than life and just as dynamic as the grape he so fervently champions. No wonder his wines were chosen to be served at Nelson Mandela’s 85th birthday party.

The grapes from Mr. Forrester’s 2018 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc are sourced from 40-year-old vines picked by hand. The wine is barrel- and tank-fermented and left on the lees for nine months, employing 20% new French Oak.

This is a very attractive wine, youthful and delicately textured. Full-bodied and complex, but not overpowering, it has a very satisfying mouthfeel and soft, lingering finish… And, given its outstanding quality, this wine is also quite reasonably priced, retailing around the $15.00 mark. It is available through PA State Stores via special order only for $15.29. The lowest price I have seen online is $12.99 from Joe’s Canal in the Mercer Mall, Lawrenceville, New Jersey.


King Estate Pinot Gris 20182018 King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris (Oregon): Wine writer Matt Kramer of The Oregonian considers King Estate the benchmark producer of pinot gris (aka pinot grigio) in the country. While the winery also makes pinot noir and limited amounts of chardonnay, it is mainly credited with bringing the pinot gris grape varietal into the national consciousness… And the 2018 King Estate Pinot Gris is a particularly first-rate example of the winemaker’s art. “This baseline Pinot Gris really shines in this vintage,” the Wine Enthusiast noted, bestowing 91 points and an Editors’ Choice designation. Its juicy fruit flavors and marvelously fresh acidity lead the palate to a long, elegant finish. It is also available from a variety of sources; particularly PA State Stores at $21.99 and Total Wine, Claymont, DE, at $18.49.


Tiefenbrunner Muller Thurgau2017 Tiefenbrunner Feldmarschall von Fenner Müller-Thurgau (Italy): I first tasted the 2018 Tiefenbrunner while dining at Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia. And, as previously mentioned, I was so impressed that the moment I returned home I began an online search to see where it might be available for purchase.

Unfortunately, the 2018 was nowhere to be found. I was, however, able to secure four bottles of the 2017, which was even more highly rated – 96 whopping points from the Wine Enthusiast and listed as #14 in their Top 100 Wines of 2019 – and, as one wine writer noted, it was “a stunner from swirl to finish.” In addition, wine critic James Suckling referred to it as possibly the “best Müller-Thurgau in the world”; and the renowned Gambero Rosso Wine Guide awarded it with a coveted Three Glasses prize. This is simply a fabulous wine – elegant and delicious – and well worth seeking out.

The wine’s retail list price is $45.00, but I’ve seen it priced as high as $60.00 per bottle. The best deal thus far discovered online is $43.98 from Central Wine Merchants in Flemington, New Jersey, which is where I managed to secure my four bottles.


 Zacharias Assyrtiko2020 Zacharias Assyrtiko (Greece): Assyrtiko is Greece’s most striking white grape. It originated from the Cyclades Island of Santorini, but is now planted to most Greek wine regions – from other Aegean Islands to Macedonia, Central Greece, and down to the Peloponnese – becoming, in terms of quality, one of the most important native varietals. It produces mainly dry white wines, some of which are aged in oak, but a number of rich and sumptuous sweet wines as well.

Dry Assyrtiko wines tend to appeal to those who – like this writer – are drawn to unconventional, intense styles of whites that emphasize texture and density rather than fruit and oak. During our recent trip to Greece and the Greek Islands, I was fortunate enough to sample a number of Assyrtiko wines from various producers. And while they differed slightly, depending upon the terroir of their place of origin, all displayed a stony minerality and citrusy freshness that made them extraordinarily food friendly.

The 2019 Zacharias Assyrtiko, which hails from the Peloponnese Peninsula, received 91 points and was included in the “Top 100 Best Buys of 2021” by Wine Enthusiast. I tried desperately to secure it online, but it was not to be found… So, I settled for the 2020 Zacharias, which turned out to be, in my opinion, even better. The list price is noted as $15.00. However, the best price online is $12.99 per bottle (plus shipping) from Central Wine Merchants in Flemington, New Jersey.

A fabulous wine… at an equally fabulous price. Don’t miss it!


Be Safe & Stay Well


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