5 Great Wines Under $15: Whites

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The Pinot Blanc from Alsatian winemaker Louis Sipp will set you back only $11.96.


A couple of days ago I suggested five bottles of red wine you could readily find at Astor and elsewhere under $15 that tasted more expensive than they were, and would appeal to nearly anyone who simply likes wine -- and even more to those enamored of it.

Today, we do the whites, and the same ground rules apply. Note that whites are often a better deal than reds. I've heard it said that most people who prefer whites do so because it doesn't stain the teeth -- but this is oeno-blasphemy. Whites are every bit as good as reds, often better. It just depends on the mood you're in. And besides, no one is ever going to accuse reds of being "refreshing," yet that is a quality whites often enjoy.

1. Pinot Blanc from Louis Sipp (2009), above -- This white Alsatian is produced in the area surrounding the town of Ribeuvillé by Louis Sipp, a third-generation grower and vintner whose wines achieved organic certification in 2008. The wine is light-straw-colored, dry, and unfolds slowly on the tongue with subtle fruitiness. It could likely be aged up to five years or so with good results, but you'll have trouble not opening it immediately. $11.96


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2. Riesling from Cave Spring (2008) -- Rieslings thrive in cooler climates with drier, chalkier soils and this Canadian example drinks stately and elegant for the price. The vines are trained to grow vertically, and very close together, to create the sort of stress on the grapes that produces concentration in flavors. The wine is also slightly sweet, which makes it a perfect companion to cheese, and other dinner pre-munches. $11.99


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3. Vin de Savoie Abymes from Domain Labbé (2010) -- From a region in the mountainous southeast that didn't become French until the Treaty of Turin in 1860, this wine is made with a very obscure grape called Jacquere that tastes like the Alps: pale, dry, and slightly piney. The wine's lightness and subtle flavor means it pairs well with main courses, especially poultry and seafood. Heck, I'd drink it with a plate of pork sausages. $11.99


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4. "Scuttlehole" Chardonnay from Channing Sisters -- Normally, I'm not a big fan of chardonnay. But the brashness and cheesiness that the grape sometimes achieves in California is here held in check by Eastern Long Island terroir, and the result is a subtlety and laid-back quality that are rare in a chardonnay. Channing Sisters is one of the most talented winemakers in the state's easternmost territory, and you could bring this to a dinner party as a sop to your locavoric friends without betraying your taste in wine one bit. Furthermore, this would make a great sushi wine. $14.96


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5. Rioja Blanco from Bodegas Muga -- Located in the Obarenes Mountains in the Rioja Alta wine-producing region, Bodegas Muga has been making wines in the area since 1932, and is justifiably famous for its red Rioja riservas, long-aged in oak barrels made at the winery. This elegant white made from 90 percent Viura and 10 percent Malvasia benefits from its oak aging with a body and finish more powerful and complex than you might expect in a Spanish white -- with a higher alcohol content. As good for sipping afterward as for accompanying a meal. $14.96 (currently marked down to $12.96)


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