Crispy critters

One of the most fun aspects of having a newspaper column is feedback and requests from readers. Especially challenging ones.

A couple of days ago, I got this email:

“I enjoy your writing [well said, sir!], particularly your wine columns. I would appreciate your help. I drink both red and white wines but favor whites in warm weather. I have Stainlessenjoyed Verdicchio and Sancerre and some unoaked Chards [left]. I am looking for a flinty dry minerally white under $15. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.”

It took awhile to get back to him, partially because of how I introduce my response but also because I had to pore through some tasting notes and figure out not only what might fit but whether it is available in the Twin Cities. Here it is:

“OK, you’re in a difficult slot because $15-$22 is the real sweet spot for this style: Sancerre, albarino, assyrtikos from Santorini, most Italian whites fit in there.

“But there are options, largely in France. Touraines come from near Sancerre and often get under $15, or at least right there. I like Champteloup, Domaine des Corbillieres (love!), Jean-Francois Merieau Larpent des Vaudone; cheaper still is the Domaine du Rin du Bois.

“Another French option is Picpoul de Pinets; they’re not flinty per se but are lively and Felinesclean; the fruit can have richer layers, but there’s always citrus. And they’re usually closer to $10. Favorites: Domaine Reine Juliet, Gaujal, Felines Jourdan and Foncallieu Cuvee Prestige.

“And of course Muscadets, which are bone-dry. Not sure about the price points but likely possibilities include Chevalier Cotes de Grand Lieu, Domaine Des Cognettes, Pierre de la Grange and the amazing Stephane and Vincent Perraud Clisson.

“Also look for Cotes de Gascogne (brands: Montravet, Domaine de Pouy) and Vin de Savoie (Pierre Boniface, Jean-Pierre et Jean Francoise and Domaine Labbé Abymes).

“In Italy, arrneis and Gavi whites from Piedmont fit your palate but not your budget. Some great whites from elsewhere in Italy that you might find under $15: Argiolis Vermentino, Cusumano Angimbe Insolia, Barone di Valforte Pecorino, Maculan Pino & Toi.

Grooner“I think you’d like the Evolucio furmint from Hungary and the Meinhard Forsteiter ‘Grooner’ from Austria (gruners also tend to be spendier, and the quality rises rapidly, too).

“For Spanish possibilities: go here.”

“But the main advice is to get to know a couple of merchants. I know a lot of savvy ones who are good at tuning in to their customers’ wishes. I can send you to a few (in general, or near where you live) if you’d like.”

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