Summer white wine suggestions including Sauvignon Blanc, Spanish whites, Chablis and Pinot Gris.
By Louis Marmon
Gazette Newspapers June 23, 2010
White wines, served with the lighter warm weather fare or sipped solo as the sun sets, come in a wide range of flavors and styles. Every wine-producing area creates worthwhile whites, making summer a perfect time to explore new varietals and regions.
Sauvignon Blanc becomes more popular each year. Often value-priced, it is made in either “grassy” or citrus style. Among the few that are a combination is the well-made melon- and lemon-scented Oak Grove Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2009 ($8) that has hints of herbs and grass in its nicely balanced finish. Some other California examples are the delightful Kunde Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($15) that shows bright grapefruit, lime and peach flavors; the kiwi- and grapefruit-scented Foppiano Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($15) with peach and lemon notes, and the crispy citrus Quivira Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($18) that also has green apple and lime flavors.
Some familiar California names also make fine Sauvignon Blancs like the pear- and pineapple-flavored Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($14), the Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17) with zippy lemon, lime and hints of lychee; the Phelps Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($22) that has bananas, pears and apples with mild acidity, and the Sbragia Home Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($20) that exhibits rich fig and tropical fruit flavors, good balance and some grassiness at the end.
Among the excellent Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand is the Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($22) with the characteristic grassy aromas leading into brisk lime, lemon and grapefruit flavors, enticing acidity and a lovely, balanced finish. From Israel, try the Tabor Galil Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($12), a medium-bodied effort with citrus, kiwi and tropical fruits on a grassy frame. Australian d’Arenberg Broken Fishplate Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($18) is intensely aromatic, with guava and passionfruit that glide smoothly into well-balanced peach, lychee and mango flavors.
Spain is the source of many of the world’s best wine values, including Valminor Albarino Rias Baixas 2008 ($14) that bursts with apricot, grapefruit and apple aromas and flavors that linger with a touch of minerals and tangerines. Pears and peaches predominate in the tasty Tapena Verdejo 2008 ($10), along with citrus and minerals at the end, while bananas and lemons open the Bodegas Docampo Vina do Campo Ribero 2008 ($14), leading into creamy almond, apple and peach flavors. An intriguing smokiness is found in the Telmo Rodriguez Gaba do Xil Godello 2007 ($15), a smooth, medium-bodied wine from Valdeorras that also has honeyed peaches, melon, apricot and a touch of anise.
My summer Chardonnay of choice is Chablis, with its bracing acidity and distinctive minerality. The floral-scented Corine Perchaud Chablis 2008 ($24) was made from 25-year-old vines and exhibits complex lemon, peach, pear and limestone notes with a prolonged, well balanced finish.
The various iterations of Pinot Gris are also good summer sippers. From Alsace, there’s the lovely, aromatic Domaine Ehrhart Im Berg Pinot Gris 2008 ($17) in which mango, peach and apricot combine within a slightly sweet style that is nicely offset by citrus acidity and minerals leading into a mouth-filling finish. Made in a similar off-dry style is the Helfrich Nobel Tier Pinot Gris 2009 ($15) that has enticing honeyed peach, apple and hints of spice at the end. Try the Californian Luna Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2008 ($18), with orange and grapefruit aromas along with mango, apricot and mineral notes.