I drink white wines all year round. In Spring and Summer however my consumption of white wine increases as the weather and foods provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy them. As I did recently with Rosé I've also done with white wine. I tasted through a couple dozen whites from a combination of wineries I was very familiar with to ones I had less experience with. From them I picked 6 wines that I recommend everyone drink this summer. Martin & Weyrich- 2006 Pinot Grigio. Between the industrial stuff emerging in great quantity from Italy and the number of indistinguishable attempts from California and other areas there's a lot of Pinot Grigio to wade through before you find a good one. Thankfully they're out there and this one from Martin & Weyrich in Paso Robles is one of them. The nose is filled with lemon zest and a light vanilla note. Tropical fruit and honeydew fill the palate of this wine. A soft, round mouth-feel is the trademark characteristic to me. The finish features subtle but emerging spice notes that linger. This wine is well balanced with good acid. It'll pair nicely with a wide array of foods as well as drinking wonderfully on its own. This is the sort of white wine I could sit on my porch and drink all day. It's combination of easy drink-ability combined with more than enough complexity to keep it interesting make this a winner. With new world Pinot Grigio of this quality available it's a wonder people still drink so much of the anonymous tasting stuff like Santa Margherita. The suggested retail price is $15.
Sawtooth Winery- 2005 Viognier. This Viognier from Idaho also has Roussane blended in. Copious quantities of floral and citrus notes fill the nose of this wine. From the very first sip there is a richness in the mouth feel that comes from the addition of the Roussane. Vanilla, lychee fruit and a touch of smokiness emerge at the end of the mid-palate and carry through the finish. This wine sips nicely on its own and will be a good match for grilled chicken, pasta salad and other light foods. The retail price for this wine is $10, a terrific value.
Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards- 2007 Gewurztraminer. Lychee fruit is the first thing that emerges from the nose of this wine. From the moment I took the first sip I was hit with an avalanche of apricots. Lemon notes are prominent throughout the palate along with excellent spice characteristics dancing on the tongue. Of these, nutmeg resonates the most. This Gewurztraminer has a soft, lush mid-palate and an excellent, lengthy finish. This wine will be a great match for herb crusted goat cheese as well as light summer cuisine in general. The suggested retail price of this wine is $16. It's one of the better New World Gewurtztraminer's I've had in awhile and at that price it's a nice value to boot.
Rodney Strong- 2006 Chalk Hill Chardonnay. What would a look at white wines for summer be without at least one Chardonnay. This ubiquitous grape is one I love, but am also very finicky about. So I'm always happy when I find a Chardonnay to recommend. Spice, vanilla, citrus fruit and light toasty notes fill the nose of this Sonoma Chardonnay. Oak is present but thankfully unobtrusive as it allows the fruit to shine through wonderfully. The spice notes continue through an above average finish. Good acidity and balance make this an excellent candidate to pair with many foods. Rich, creamy cheeses, lighter grilled meats and hearty entree salads are a couple of things that come to mind. The suggested retail price for this wine is $20. This is a widely available release and wine-searcher shows it can generally be had for closer to $15.
Wild Horse Vineyards- 2006 Viognier. This is the white varietal I reach for first as an alternative to Chardonnay. They tend to be floral, unctuous and full of tropical fruit flavors. This 2006 example from Wild Horse is no exception to that. A bit of Roussane and Verdelho are blended with the Viognier. Both additions add to this wines richness and complexity. Citrus notes at the front and spice and minerality on the finish are the hallmarks of this wine. It'll serve equally well as a stand alone sipper, with white grilled meats or as a match to spicy Asian cuisine. The suggested retail price on this one is $19. At that price or the couple dollars less you're likely to find it for it's a fun and compelling summer wine.
York Mountain- 2006 Albarino. Over the last few years Albarino seems to be making some inroads in California. Most well known examples, emanate from Spain. As this offering shows though, Albarino can be well made in California too. Grapefruit and honeydew are predominate on the nose. All the way from the first sip through to the finish the trademark is of a very dry wine. This is typical of the varietal. Citrus notes emerge throughout and the finish has some mineral notes as well as a touch of tartness and gentle spice notes. This is an excellent wine to pair with appetizers or to serve to your guests as they enter your home. The retail price for this wine is $18.
Up Next: Four more releases from Rodney Strong Vineyards.
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