If pinot noir is king in Santa Barbara, than chardonnay is undoubtedly its queen. With nearly 6,200 acres planted to the grape, chard dwarfs every other white variety in terms of quantity, including familiar varieties like sauvignon blanc, viognier, or chenin blanc. But leave all of these French varieties behind, and you’ll discover a smattering of charming white Italian grapes grown and vinified by a handful of infatuated vintners.
Many of these grapes are only grown in one or two regions of Italy. But even outside of their home turf, they tend to produce wines that echo the best qualities of their Italian counterparts: high acidity, low alcohol, and thirst-quenching gulpability. And at less than $25, these all offer great value.
Palmina Arneis 2013: The nose smells sweet with notes of figs and honey and a whiff of cucumber. The wine is rich across the palate with notes of white peaches, juicy acidity, and a clean finish. $20
Mosby Cortese 2012: Lime zest and apricot on the nose with light stone fruit and green apple on the palate, bright acidity, and a stony finish. $18
Moretti Vermentino 2013: Notes of lemon and white flower on the nose leads to crisp green apple, pears, and citrus on the palate. $24
Clendenen Family Vineyards Tocai Friulano “Borgo Buon Natale” 2013: Almond, honey, and jasmine on the nose with lively notes of apple and pear, rich body, and a crisp finish. $18
Toccata Malvasia Bianca Secco 2013: The first completely dry malvasia bianca from Toccata has none of the sugar and all of the aromas. Lime blossom, honey, and pear on the nose with notes of citrus on the palate and minerality on the finish. $21