Now that the temperatures have turned a corner for many of you in four-season states, thoughts turn to summer wines to enjoy on the patio or boat. We’re talking sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, pinot gris, riesling, viognier and the like.
Wines such as sauvignon blanc have the crisp acidity to marry well with fresh produce coming into season. Usually dry and free of oak, sauvignon blanc can range in style from the grassy New Zealand version to the softer, grapefruit dominant wines from the West Coast. They are great sippers but also go well with herb-based sauces.
Another favorite at this time of the year is pinot grigio, which also has a range in style of sweetness. We like the drier versions because they do much better with food. Acidity can balance the sweetness yet retain the fruit character, but not all pinot grigio producers do that.
Pinot gris is another name for pinot grigio, but pinot blanc is a distant cousin.
Burn the socks and enjoy these 12 interesting white wines to get you into the mood:
Chalone Chenin Blanc 2017 ($40). Chenin blanc is the grape variety most often associated with Vouvray in France, but other countries, including South Africa, have been making their own versions. This one from Chalone is very special and remarkable. Using grapes planted by a French immigrant 100 years ago, Chalone has crafted a tantalizing wine redolent of apple, pear and tangerine flavors. There is a good dose of mineral and acidity to keep the wine crisp and just slightly sweet.
- Swanson Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2018 ($19). We loved this balanced and fruity pinot grigio from the San Benito region of California. Lots of pear, peach and apricot flavors with a dash of citrus and good acidity to keep the sugar in check.
Santa Cristina Pinot Grigio 2018 ($12). We liked this wine from Antinori because it had green apple and pineapple notes instead of the ripe stone fruit notes associated with many pinot grigios.
- Eberle Winery Cotes-du-Robles Blanc 2018 ($24). Using grenache blanc, roussanne and viognier grapes, this take-off on Cotes du Rhone is from the Paso Robles region of California. This dry wine is refreshing with bright acidity and sporting pear and stone fruit flavors.
- Chehalem Three Vineyards Pinot Gris 2016 ($20). Generous floral and ginger aromas are chased by a racy peach and apricot flavors with hints of spice and lemongrass. The crisp acidity balances out the fruity character of the grape variety and makes for an excellent match to seafood and fowl
Beckmen Vineyards Cuvee le Bec Santa Ynez Valley 2017 ($25). Beckmen uses red Rhone grape varieties and whole cluster fermentation to create a refreshing, brisk melange of black fruit flavors and aromas of lavender and licorice.
- Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2017 ($21). This highly aromatic and refreshing viognier comes from Australia’s Eden Valley. Stone fruit permeates the aromas and flavors.
- Santa Barbara Winery Riesling Santa Rita Hills Lafond Vineyard 2016 ($17). This is a very reasonably priced, food-friendly white wine that drinks a bit off dry to balance riesling’s natural high acidity. Smooth delivery features a peach nose and flavors and a nice smooth finish.
Bouchard Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuisse 2017 ($30). French wine for less than $50? This is a delightful white chardonnay from the Macon region of France. Very clean and refreshing with apple notes and a mineral edge. Ready to drink now
- Cedar + Salmon Wilamette Valley Pinot Gris 2018 ($19). We liked the fresh ac