By Dave Eckert
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After the stretch of weather we’ve just been through, I’m ready to declare that summer is officially here. The heat and humidity have been oppressive, but neither will deter me from consuming my favorite adult beverage-wine. With that in mind, I’ve done some exhaustive research to compile a list of some of my favorite summertime quaffers. Because of the depth and tenacity of said research (tongue planted firmly in cheek), I’ve divided my choices into two articles-one on whites and rosés, and the second on red wines. Let’s get going with some white and rosé wine choices for the dog days of summer.
Imagery Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County ($17 SRP) – a terrific summertime sipper, this wine is everything I want in a New World Sauvignon Blanc. It’s loaded with aromas of citrus and honeysuckle, jammed with flavors of lemon-lime and grapefruit, and lined with mouth-cleansing acidity and minerality. Try with salads or on its own out on the back deck or patio.
Landmark Cellars Overlook Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($27 SRP) – another Sonoma County beauty, Landmark’s Overlook Chardonnay was crafted from 42 different blocks of grapes sourced from premium vineyards throughout the county. Lemon yellow in color, and exquisitely balanced, the wine has a creamy core to its lemon merengue flavors and citrus aromas yet finishes with lovely acidity. Try this Chardonnay with grilled chicken or pork.
Benziger Reserve Los Carneros Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($30 SRP) – sourced from the famous Sangiacomo Family Vineyards on the Sonoma side of Los Carneros, the Benziger Chardonnay has all the hallmarks of a great Carneros Chard. It is well-balanced with flavors and aromas of ripe tree fruit (apple and pear, in particular) with hints of lemon zest in the finish. Delicious!
Angela Estate Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($35 SRP) – I’m so pleased estates in Oregon’s Willamette Valley have begun to rediscover Chardonnay. Largely abandoned for Pinot Gris in the Willamette, Chardonnay is making a comeback. This is a great example of how well Chardonnay can do there. This first-ever Chardonnay release for Angela Estate was barrel-aged for a year as the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. The result is a complex and elegant wine with terrific balance. Notes of ripe peaches and pears are enhanced by hints of earth and minerals, all kissed by sweet, rich oak. This wine cries for scallops, pan-seared in compound butter!
Chronic Cellars Stone Fox, Paso Robles, CA ($22 SRP) – a Rhone-style blend featuring Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul Blanc, Stone Fox is another fun and delicious wine from Paso Robles’ Chronic Cellars. I love their labels, which feature unique graphic novel-type artwork and creative, funky names. But I like their wines even more. Stone Fox lives up to its billing with the honeysuckle notes consistent with Viognier, the acidity of Grenache Blanc, and the earthy-minerality of Picpoul Blanc. Chill it and kill it!
Masolino Moscato d’Asti, Italy (SRP $22.99) – if you think Moscato is sweet and simple, then you’ve never had this Moscato. The color, a bright straw yellow, belies the complexity and crispness of the wine. Bright and high-toned fruit leads to a long, persistent finish. This is a crowd-pleaser, for sure!
Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio, Italy ($18.99 SRP) – often overlooked for its more famous red wines, white wine production in Italy has never been better or more diverse, in my opinion. This wine comes from the northeast coast of Italy and the region of Marche. The region, considered the greenest in Italy, is famous for its Verdicchio. This wine is a perfect example of why. Harmonious and elegant, the wine sings with bright flavors and aromas, yet never loses its balance. Try it with lemon sole. You will not be disappointed.
Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Pecorino, Italy ($16.99 SRP) – Pecorino might just be my favorite white wine that “you’ve never heard of.” More famous as a sheep milk cheese from Tuscany than a white wine, Pecorino is nonetheless delicious. Bone dry with a core of minerality, the Vellodoro Pecorino will open your eyes to just how good and how unique Italian white wines can be.
Chateau de la Rogatiere Muscadet Old Vines, Loire Valley, France ($18 SRP) – the best Muscadet I’ve ever had and an absolute perfect pairing for mussels in a white wine, shallot sauce, Chateau de la Rogateire’s offering takes Muscadet to new heights. No doubt, the old vines have something to say about that, giving the wine additional concentration, depth, and complexity. There’s plenty of ripe fruit here, but also notes of lemon and lemon zest along with terrific acidity, which leads to a bright and lively finish.
Onto the Rosés:
Bonterra Rosé, California ($16 SRP) – long one of my favorite New World producers, Bonterra rosé blends grapes from organic vineyards throughout California. Much of the fruit comes from its own organically-farmed estate vineyards in Mendocino County. A lovely Grenache-based rosé, the wine is brimming with fruit, most notably, red berries and watermelon, while finishing with a crisp, lingering acidity. I could drink this all day, every day.
Ron’s Chillable Pink, California ($13 SRP) – from Ron Rubin in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, this delightful wine is perfect for a chill, twist, and pour event all summer long. Strawberry, watermelon, and citrus flavors leap from the glass. And you’ll feel great about drinking these too as all grapes are sourced from family-owned, sustainably-farmed, California vineyards.