The summer heat can be oppressive in August, arguably the hottest month of the summer. Even in the evening, the high temperatures and humidity can keep us confined to comfortable, air-conditioned houses. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy wine.
Warmer temperatures call for chilled white wines. Don’t let the weather keep you away from the grill, the boat or a shaded back yard.
Here are 10 unique white wines we recently discovered for warm weather quaffing:
- Argyle Nuthouse Riesling ($30). Winemaker Nate Klostermann gets great balance between acidity and residual sugar in this stunning riesling from the Willamette Valley. Medium dry, it offers lovely stone fruit flavors and good palate weight to make it a good match to summer fare.
- Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco 2018 ($16). This delicious summer wine is made using the appassimento technique – drying harvested grapes. Italian authorities don’t even have a category for a dry white wine made with raisined grapes. Made from garganega grapes, it is a unique, textured wine with peach and citrus notes.
- CVNE Monopole Rioja 2019 ($15). This white wine made entirely of viura grapes has plenty of floral aromas and pear/apple flavors with bright acidity. It’s a great aperitif to start your spring.
- Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen 2018 ($18). We love this underrated grape variety from Austria for its bright acidity and floral character. It’s a nice alternative to sauvignon blanc but similar in style with citrus, grapefruit and herbaceous flavors.
- Emeritus Hallberg Blanc Russian River Valley 2018 ($40). Not many producers make a white wine from pinot noir. The juice is removed from the crushed pinot noir grapes with no skin contact. The wine is lower in alcohol and higher in acid. Rich in texture, its fresh acidity and stone fruit flavors.
- Penner-Ash Hyland Vineyard Old Vine Riesling 2017 ($35). This off-dry wine has the right touch of sweetness to balance the crisp acidity and make for a delicious, round wine with stone fruit flavors.
- Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine 2019 ($50). The name is Flora Spring’s proprietary sauvignon blanc clone. There is some chardonnay and malvasia tossed in this delicious, exotic blend of tropical fruit flavors, creamy mouthfeel and hints of spice and citrus.
- Aperture Chenin Blanc 2019 ($30). This unique old-vine chenin blanc from California’s North Coast is barrel fermented. Rich but balanced, it has plenty of apple and apricot notes.
- Zenato Lugana di San Benedetto 2018 ($20). Made entirely from trebbiano di lugana grapes unique to this area in Veneto, Italy, this quaffable treat has a perfumy nose with peach and citrus flavors. Perfect for summer sipping.
- Trivento White Orchid Reserve Torrontes Mendoza Argentina 2016 ($13). What a terrific summer quaffer at a bargain price! Made up of 85 percent torrontes and 15 percent pinot grigio, this white blend exhibits refreshing citrus notes with an alluring floral presence that adds complexity. Bright acidity completes the package.
Sauvignon blanc is also a good wine to complement the simple foods we prepare in summer months. They go great with citrus-based sauces that are common to chicken and fish dishes. If any of your preparations are based on lime or lemon, sauvignon blanc is always a safe bet. It’s crisp acidity, grapefruit and herbaceous character also make the grape variety an enjoyable aperitif.
Here are several we recently enjoyed:
- Lucas & Lewellen Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($20). Sturdy in structure but easy on the palate, this wine from Santa Barbara County shows off tropical fruit aromas and generous peach flavors. Long finish.
- Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc Chile 2019 ($10). This is one of the best bargains on the market today. Always reliable, Los Vascos delivers a solid, varietal rendition of sauvignon blanc. Classic pineapple, peach and lemon/lime notes abound in the nose and mouth. Nice crisp finish.
- Rombauer Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($24). Using grapes from both Napa and Sonoma counties, Rombauer offers a crisp and bright sauvignon blanc with grapefruit, peach and grassy notes.
- Stags’ Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($32). Varietal citrus aromas with melon and grapefruit flavors, a touch of lemon peel and fresh acidity. Very thirst-quenching.
- Flat Top Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($14). C. Mondavi & Family’s new Flat Top Hills brand offers a lot of good values. This sauvignon blanc has fresh herbal notes with crisp acidity and grapefruit flavors.
- Two Angels High Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019. Grapefruit and melon combine to make an exotic sauvignon blanc. From Lake County, this wine sports layered apple and peach aromas followed by grapefruit flavors with hints of lychee nut, fig and almonds.
- Kenwood Vineyards Six Ridges Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($22). If you like the grapefruit flavors in sauvignon blanc, this wine is for you. Very bright acidity with herbal and lime notes.
- Priest Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($22). Grapefruit and lime notes abound in this delicious and balanced sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley.
- Fopppiano Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($20). Made by a wine pioneer in the Russian River Valley, this sauvignon blanc sports tropical fruit aromas with a bit of grassiness – a combination of California and New Zealand styles. Forward peach and citrus flavors.
- Oak Farm Vineyards Albarino Lodi 2017 ($25). This is a wonderful, consumer-friendly albarino. If you love the brightly acidic, taut, mineral driven albarinos from Rais Baixas, Spain, this may not be for you. But if you want a delicious ripe peach, pear fruit, soft round wine with citrus notes then this albarino may appeal to you. Very food friendly for chicken and fish dishes.
- Beronia Reserva Rioja 2015 ($23). A traditional blend of 95 percent tempranillo and the balance made up of graciano and mazuelo. This is a classic reserva with plum and cherry notes in a warm French and American oak frame. Great for pairing with rich beef dishes.
- Anaba Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017 ($48). The grapes for this wine were picked just before the 2017 fires – whew! It is a delicious and ageable pinot noir with plum and bright blackberry notes.
- Stags’ Leap Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2018 ($32). With just a kiss of oak flavors, this balanced and well-priced chardonnay exudes delicate pear and green apple notes with hints of spice, vanilla and lime. The small amounts of viognier and sauvignon blanc add aromatics and texture to the wine.
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Tom Marquardt (email for questions) and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They’ve traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the U.S.
Tom lives in Florida with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, Md.