In a strange (but necessary) flip-flop on normal seasonal behavior this year, just as temperatures began warming and bulbs blooming, most of us had to head indoors and, in large part, watch spring come through our windows. Completely unsatisfying. But in these temporary days of sheltering in place, an antidote to the gloom was a deep exploration into the season’s newest crop of white wines, capable of bringing all the flavors of spring inside.
In recent tastings (with plenty of time, god knows), I concentrated on whites that aren’t Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. By that, I mean no disrespect to those noble varieties; they will always own special spots in my fine-wine-loving heart (and space in Robb Report coverage). But many “alternative” whites—the Alsatians, like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer; the Rhônes, led by Viognier; even Austrian Grüner Veltliner—offer up more flamboyant aromas and sunny fruit flavors, a flat-out celebration of the season many of us can only enjoy from a distance. Okay, and we included one unusual Sauv Blanc because it is so different than many of its cousins.
It’s clear, more than ever this year, that our West Coast producers have been honing these Old World varieties and are turning out gems in all their diversity. Crisp, complex, balanced—here are 21 bottles that will make you think you’re outdoors.