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A nice cold glass of white wine is perfect for these hot summer days. There are so many different white wines out there and so many different styles that it can get a little overwhelming and confusing. We hope that this will serve as your summer white wine guide and will help you to choose a varietal and style that perfectly suits your taste.
In each region where Sauvignon Blanc is grown, the grape and resulting wine expresses a unique set of flavors and styles. Sauvignon Blanc thrives throughout France, and especially within Bordeaux, where it is the prominent grape varietal in Bordeaux Blanc blends and the coveted dessert wines of Sauternes . The climate of Bordeaux allows the Sauvignon Blanc grapes to ripen more slowly than in other areas, giving a wonderful balance between acidity and fruit. The climate is also an important factor in the development of the wine’s aromas. The flavors in these wines are fruitier than those from other regions in France. These wines can also age a bit more than the Sauvignon Blancs that are produced elsewhere.
The Loire Valley is the home of Sancerre, producing some of the most celebrated Sauvignon Blancs in the world. Sancerre is considered an elegant wine that is vibrant and crisp. Sancerre has good fruit and minerals, which combine to make a deep and complex Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit flavors that are typically present in Sancerre are from the citrus family, including lemon, lime and grapefruit. However, when the grapes are really ripe you can taste pear, quince, and apple. The wines that are produced in Sancerre have a good acidity, making them among the most refreshing wines out there.
California Sauvignon Blanc is made in a variety of styles, some of which were inspired by the regions of France. Fume-Blanc is a “French look a-like” that came into being when Robert Mondavi began using oak aging to remove some of the grassy flavors that were showing up in his California Sauvignon Blanc.
The flavors that are present in Sauvignon Blanc/Fume-Blanc, grown in California, tend to be minerally, grassy, and tropical. The wines that show more tropical fruits tend to be mixed with Semillon, which helps add ripe and aromatic fruit flavors. In addition, there are wines produced in California that offer citrus fruit aromas, showing notes of passion fruit, grapefruit, and lemon. On the other hand, the Fume-Blanc style shows melon flavors, as well as some other tropical fruits.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very tropical and refreshing when the weather is really hot. There is also something about New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that I really enjoy in general, but especially in the summer. Just like all Sauvignon Blancs that I have covered here, they are bright, refreshing, and crisp. Marlborough is the most well-known area in New Zealand where this grape variety is grown and produced.
A typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very aromatic with tropical notes of pineapple, passion fruit, grapefruit, melon, gooseberry, and other citrus flavors. Some of these wines can have grassy and floral notes too. The cool climate that the grapes are grown in allows for these flavors to be quite intense, but also gives a good balance between sugars and acidity. Moderate to high acidity is typical for these wines.
Chardonnay is the chameleon of the white wine grapes, having a variety of expressions depending on the region and the winemaker’s influence. Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world. Chardonnay is a native grape varietal to France’s Burgundy region. Consumers always get confused when it comes to Burgundy – red or white. It seems confusing with the different appellations within a village, the many different growers within the same vineyard, and then of course you sprinkle in the negociant. When it comes to White Burgundy, the first thing you need to know is that 95% percent of the time, the white wines produced there are made from Chardonnay! And Burgundy produces some of the finest and most age worthy Chardonnays in the world. Depending on the area of Burgundy, the flavors that can arise range from citrus fruit to licorice and spice notes, and can be rich and creamy in style or very racy and brisk. Chablis is perhaps the most distinctive expression of Chardonnay within Burgundy. View all White Burgundy available on our website.
Chablis will always be 100% Chardonnay, no blending of any kind. Because of the cool climate that the grapes are grown in, Chablis is always refreshing and very crisp, but don’t let that fool you, Chablis can be aged. Expressing a deep mineral character in its youth, the wine tends to softens with age and develop floral and honeyed notes. Another typical characteristic of young Chablis is a green apple-like acidity, as well as a flinty-mineral flavor.
California is another popular Chardonnay producing region. California Chardonnay tends to be fuller-bodied in style, filling the palate with rich flavors and textures. Chardonnay is wonderfully versatile, which is why it works so well for all seasons!
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio is a mutant form of the Pinot Noir grape. The grapes can actually have a purplish hue, although the wine produced is light in color. This is a wonderful warm weather wine and is sure to cool you off on a hot summer afternoon. It tends to be light to medium-bodied in style and is usually very pale in color. It is extremely bright, crisp, and refreshing. Pinot Gris thrives in Alsace, California and Oregon, while Italy is known for Pinot Grigio. View all Pinot Grigio available on our website.
Italian Pinot Grigio is very bright and clean. It is very light in color and in body. Sometimes there is an effervescent feel to an Italian Pinot Grigio. This makes the wine elegant and delicate, which means you want to drink it in its youth.
Pinot Gris is a major grape varietal in Alsace, and is very different from the Pinot Gris/Grigio that is found everywhere else. These wines have very intense flavors, because of the long autumn season, which allows for the grapes to ripen very slowly. The Alsatian Pinot Gris is medium-bodied and can be aged for longer than those of Italy and the United States. Alsatian Pinot Gris can have a nice spice flavor to it, which is unique to this variety. In general, Pinot Grigio makes a great cooler for the hot weather!
Summer is finally here, which means that it’s time to fire up the grill and break out the best of summer – light, bright, refreshing wines! There are several good summer wines that I would like to recommend. I would also like to briefly mention what makes a good summer wine! These wines have been selected, because I feel that they are great for summer BBQs and fun low key gatherings, but they are also great for other times in the year as well. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have so far this summer!
The summer white wines that you want to buy for BBQs and gatherings are light, crisp, and refreshing.
The white wine recommendations are fruitier, but are not sweet. This style of crisp white wines is light and refreshing, especially when served well-chilled. These white wines can be great for a typical summery BBQ or party meal, like chicken or seafood, or they can be great for pre-main course snacks and appetizers!
Sauvignon Blanc is a great white wine for the hot days ahead! Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for summer, because it is typically a refreshing, crisp white wine variety. It can be a fruity white wine, but it can also be minerally and dry; there is a style out there for everyone. Sauvignon Blanc is grown in various regions across the globe, including Bordeaux in France, Napa Valley in California, South America, South Africa and New Zealand. Each of these growing regions lends a different character to the grapes and the finished wine, offering a lot of variety in Sauvignon Blanc flavors. One of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs this summer hails from Napa Valley, the 2011 Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($15/btl).
The 2011 Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. On the nose, this spectacular wine offers aromas of fig and exotic floral notes. The flavors on the palate are of summer fruits including citrus, honeyed grapefruit, melon, and quince! Don’t let all of this fruit turn you away though, because there is good acid present as well, which places this amongst the best dry white wines. This is really a great white wine and a great value, I would say that this is one of the best sauvignon blancs under 20!
Our second white wine recommendation for summer 2013 is the 2011 Chateau Cantelaudette Graves de Vayres Blanc ($15/btl), a blend of white Bordeaux blend, which includes semillon, sauvignon blanc, and muscadelle. This is a wonderful dry white wine type considered a fantastic Graves “look alike”, and Graves produces the best white wines in Bordeaux. This is not only a dry white, but a fruity white wine as well, which are two typical characteristics of Graves. The aromas consist of citrus and some florals. The palate is long and has flavors such as melon, citrus, and fig, with a touch of wood and minerals. This white wine will go perfectly with summer salads, seafood, lobster, and any kind of appetizer that you would typically have in the summer.
Once the BBQ gets started, a glass of red or rosé is perfect! The types of rosé wine that we are offering are perfect summer wines! ‘Do you chill rosé wine?’ is a commonly asked question, and the answer is yes. Also, I find that the more chilled a rosé is, the more uplifting it is on a scorching day. Rosé wines are light, crisp, refreshing, and can be a bit more full-bodied than some whites. Rosés are great for everyone, but they are also great for the person who loves red but wants a cooler drink on a hot day. There are many spectacular rosé wines that we are offering for the summer…two of them are mentioned below!
For a softer wine that still packs a punch, 2011 Saintsbury Vincent Vin Gris of Pinot Noir Carneros ($15/btl) is wonderful. It is a medium to full-bodied, refreshing pink wine made from Pinot Noir. The wine offers zesty aromas and flavors of plum, apricot, raspberry and blood orange. On the palate, the wine is vibrant with bright fruit, but not overly fruity, and a touch of acidity to make the wine perfectly refreshing. The finish is satisfying and lasts long. After one sip, you’re left wanting more.
Food pairing for the 2011 Saintsbury Vincent Vin Gris of Pinot Noir Carneros is easy, because it goes with almost anything, with the exception of heavier red meats. You can serve this with your snacks or appetizers at your BBQ or party, but you can also serve it with the main course of chicken, fish, or burgers. The 2011 Saintsbury is truly a good summer wine that is crisp and refreshing and is a great value under $20.
For a crisp, lighter rosé wine, 2011 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley ($15/btl) is among our best wines for summer. Strawberry, orange zest, spices that build over time, and white flowers appear on the nose of this pink wine. This is a dry rosé wine on the palate, but it also has plenty of fruits and other surprises as well. On the palate, red berries and citrus fruits make an appearance, followed by a good clean finish with some floral notes at the very end. Ponzi Vineyards Rosé is a lively and fun rosé for any occasion during the summer and it is a great value too.
Your typical light summer fare will go particularly well with the 2011 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé. For example, I would recommend any kind of summer salad, like potato salad or a roasted vegetable salad tossed with citrus vinaigrette. Other salads that are ideal rosé pairings include baby spinach and arugula with a summer fruit and nut blend, tossed with a light summer vinaigrette. Risotto with fish and veggies is also a great summer dish to pair with rosé. Chicken or seafood dishes will go spectacularly as well. Mediterranean style food is perfect since you want to keep it light and simple when serving a lighter style of rosé.
Any wine with bubbles makes a great summer wine. Bubbly is always so versatile and you can have it before, during, or at the end of a meal! However, not everyone wants to spend the money for true champagne, which is why Prosecco is a great bubbly option.
The Prosecco grape originated during Roman times and is one of the oldest grapes in Italian history. Its origin and name can be traced back to the town of Prosecco in Trieste. Prosecco grapes are transformed into sparkling wine using the Charmat method in which stainless steel tanks and yeast are utilized to produce a natural second fermentation. The process takes approximately 60 days depending on acidity, residual sugar and pressure. The Charmat method allows Prosecco to preserve its original flavors and perfumes longer. Prosecco is traditionally a dry wine with hints of apple and citrus.
NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($16/btl) is a great bottle of Prosecco. It has notes of white peach, lemon zest, and smoke on the nose. For the palate it offers great flavors of granny smith apples, sweet spices, and floral notes. The finish is long, which leaves your mouthwatering and wanting another sip! It is dry, crisp, light, and oh so refreshing for these hot summer days ahead. Also, if you like a good dry white, then you will love this bubbly.
Pink bubbles are always fun for a celebration, but in the summer time, there is just something extra nice about them. If you want a sparkling Champagne rosé for a great price, NV Champagne Laherte Freres Brut Rose ($38/btl) is a wonderful choice. The red fruit and strawberry flavors are really what make this rosé Champagne the finest summer bubbly!
The best red wines for the summer are elegant in style…wines such as Pinot Noir and Beaujolais. Today Beaujolais is a wine that has depth, concentration, great structure, good balanced acidity and length. These wines are more like Burgundy than ever before. The days of carbonic maceration are practically gone. Today the serious producer treats the Gamay grape just like its counterpart, the Pinot Noir. The result is a wine that has wonderful fruit (but not too fruity), structure and length.
2011 Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionelle Vieilles Vignes ($14/btl) is, in my opinion, one of the best wines under 20, for its variety. It has such interesting flavor combinations that really get your taste buds excited. There are flavors of Middle Eastern spices, plum, red licorice, and black cherry. The nose is quite different than what you would expect with the flavors though. On the nose you smell woodsmoke, cherries, raspberries, and the minerals from the soil. This red wine is definitely vibrant and playful with good minerality, a fine core, and a finish that will impress you.
As a red wine lover, finding a good red wine for summer is a must for me! Finding a great red wine like the 2011 Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionelle Vieilles Vignes is a real treat! I recommend trying this great red wine under 20 as soon as possible.
All of this warm weather, bright sun and our constant search for a cool or air conditioned space is a definite sign that summer is upon us! It’s the time to enjoy weekends at the beach, vacations abroad, or even some rooftop barbeques with family and friends. Whatever your summer plans may be, I am sure a refreshing summer wine would be a great companion to bring along, whether it be for a casual dinner with the family or for a momentous occasion such as a wedding.
Keeping your needs in mind, we have compiled a great list of summer wines spanning the traditional favorites like Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, and adding several unique wines for you to consider including Chenin Blanc, Prosecco, Rosé Champagne, and Gewurztraminer. Here, at The Wine Cellarage, we are thrilled to share our newly composed summer wine list with you. These wines have been chosen for their excellent quality and great value. They are sure to keep you cool and refreshed all summer long!
Here’s a closer look at our summer wine list…
Summertime is here and it’s the perfect season to open up a bottle of refreshing berry-scented, floral rosé. Rosé is the ideal wine for summer barbecues and parties and is incredibly food-friendly. Perfect pairings include barbecue flavors, sausage, hamburgers, and just about anything on the grill – veggies, fish, shrimp, pork and so on. Also, fresh salads and side dishes are easily matched with just about any rosé. How could you possibly turn down a glass of beautifully pink, crispy chilled wine on a warm summer night?
The 2011 Chateau Sainte Marguerite L’Esprit Rosé Côtes de Provence ($16) from Côtes de Provence, the biggest appellation of the Provence wine region, is a beautiful blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grape varieties. This rosé is deliciously fruity and balanced with crisp strawberry and raspberry flavors and attractive acidity. It serves very well as an aperitif but is structured enough to withstand various entrées as a companion.
The 2010 Domaine Saint Ser Côtes de Provence Saint Victoire Rosé Prestige ($16) is an elegant rosé, offering lovely aromas of wild red berries, hints of watermelon and lemon zest; a perfect pairing for traditional Provencal meals like Bouillabaisse. This wine definitely has the structure to stand up to substantial dishes. The Domaine Saint-Ser is located in the Saint Victoire sub-appellation of the Côtes de Provence and is home to a small number of elite producers.
The 2011 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) is the perfect summertime sipper with aromas of raspberry, watermelon and undertones of Provençal herbs. Charles Bieler has been crafting his charming Provençal rosé for the last 7 years. This particular rosé is named after his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, and honors his father, Philippe, who introduced both Charles and his sister to the wine business.
Sauvignon Blanc wines are perfect coolers for hot summer weather. Their aroma, ranging from herbal greens to citrus fruits, often sporting refreshing acidity, makes them an attractive pick for a summer drink. Sauvignon Blanc is usually at its prime within a few years of its release while it still showcases its fruitful and fresh youth. This native French varietal is the main constituent of white Bordeaux wines and is widely planted in the Loire Valley, most notably in the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.
The Seresin estate in New Zealand produces wines from organic and biodynamic vineyards where the fruit is hand-picked and sorted. This 2009 Seresin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($45) embraces typical traits of Marlborough, with herbal and floral flavors and underlying minerality. The fruit flavors, especially gooseberry, and complexity give way to a drawn out finish of juicy citrus.
We have another New Zealand wine for you! 2010 Craggy Range Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough ($19) is great to drink now, with herbal and lime aromas and a hint of vanilla. The concentrated fruit flavors balance out with the citrus-like acidity. This drinks well as an aperitif or with lighter and fresh foods such as salads.
While we love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we’ll always have a taste for those from the Loire Valley. Pascal Jolivet is one of the Loire’s youngest estates producing exceptional Sauvignon Blancs. Established in 1987, Domaine Pascal Jolivet is devoted to natural winemaking and sustainable techniques. Based in Sancerre, the estate owns over 70 acres of the best vineyards in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. The 2009 Pascal Jolivet Sauvignon Blanc Attitude ($17) offers floral and citrus aromas, bright acidity and minerality on the palate. This delightful wine drinks like a Sancerre at half the price.
This 2010 Gerard et Pierre Morin Sancerre Vieilles Vignes ($22) is a great Sancerre which I recently had the privilege of tasting. It offers aromas of citrus fruit zest and freshly cut grass, both scents reminiscent of summer days. The wine tastes ripe, tight, and crisp with good minerality.
Chardonnay is the chameleon of the grape varietals, thriving in a range of climates and crafted in a variety of styles. Relatively neutral in character, Chardonnay is easily influenced by its environment and the winemaker’s techniques. For these reasons, it is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world. Native to France’s Burgundy, Chardonnay is the only grape variety permissible in Chablis and one of three grapes varieties used in Champagne. Outside of France, Chardonnay has flourished in the New World wine regions, growing happily in California, Chile, South Africa, Australia and beyond.
Chablis is always a refreshing choice for summertime and perfect for pairing with lighter dishes, especially seafoods. The 2009 Domaine William Fevre Chablis Montee de Tonnerre ($38) is representative of elegance and finesse with notes of fruit blossom and the great combination of smokiness and minerality on the palate, which leads to a powerful finish. This premier cru is terroir-driven and expressive, as most Domaine Fevre wines aim to be.
This 2006 Maison Deux Montille Soeur et Frère Saint-Aubin sur Gamay ($32) is a premier cru from St Aubin in the Burgundy region. The estate is run by two siblings with vineyards located mostly in the Côte de Beaune region in 20 appellations. This particular Chardonnay offers lemony stone flavors that are round and focused with aromas of pear, minerals, and white flower.
This 2009 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Meursault Genevrieres ($79) is great for any seafood dish especially with a butter or sorrel sauce. Coming from Domaine Bouchard, the estate is one of the most renowned in Burgundy and has a reputation for producing exceptional wines. This particular Chardonnay is silky with citrus and floral flavors and a very smooth finish. This wine is great to drink today or to let age for the medium-term.
Now let’s head over to the new world with New Zealand’s 2008 Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay Auckland ($32) offering sweeter exotic fruit aromas such as passion fruit and mango, with hints of toasted hazelnuts. This Chardonnay is crisp and tight with concentrated flavors and can be enjoyed now or until 2016. The estate is run successfully by the three Brajkovich brothers, and managed by their mother Melba, who is not only the head of the household, but head of the winery as well.
Another Chardonnay that we’ve fallen for this year is from a fantastic South African producer with a rich history, Glenelly Wine Estate. Located in Stellenbosch, the estate’s heritage goes back to the 17th century. May-Eliane de Lencquesaing purchased the property in 2003, after running the famed Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande for 30 years prior. May de Lencquesaing is renowned for the wines of her Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Chateau and has upheld the same level of excellence at Glenelly. The 2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch ($14) showcases the exceptional quality and value coming from this estate.
Unique Summer Wines
If you love Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley as much as we do, François Chidaine’s Vouvrays are not to be missed. Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, Chidaine’s Vouvrays share an ethereal, elegant quality and great complexity. This summer we’re sipping Chidaine’s dry style – the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25). If you’re looking for a more sweet-styled Chenin Blanc, we suggest the 2003 Domaine Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance 500 ml ($89) which showcases dried fruit aromas and flavors with a refreshing touch of acidity in the lengthy finish. This is a sweet wine that can be enjoyed now until 2030.
Breggo Cellars’ extraordinary white wines from unique varietals (Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling) places this Northern Californian producer on our summertime favorites list. The 2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($25) is exotic and enticing with opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose. Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish.
Now how about a combination of two of our favorite style summer wines, rosé and sparkling, for a rosé champagne! NV Varnier-Fanniere Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru ($58) is great served as an aperitif to accompany prosciutto or smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres, with berry or chocolate-based desserts, or even meat dishes. This energetic champagne offers great citrus and red fruit flavors, finishing off with a spiced ending. Definitely crisp and refreshing!
Another sparkler that is undoubtedly very enjoyable is our beloved Prosecco. Both the NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($16) and the NV Mionetto Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG ($18) are great accompaniments for salads, seafood or simply as aperitifs. Chill one of these Proseccos down and enjoy the bubbly!