As temperatures swell we realize the beauty of summertime lies in sipping steely, crisp, refreshing white wines that linger on your palate, cooling you off while quenching your anticipating thirst. Yes, this refreshment can be found in a glass of your typical Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, but this summer consider a sip of something unusual, something unique, something not on your radar like one of these whites. Often found on the “interesting white wines” portion of your favorite wine list, each will satisfy and perhaps ignite your wine curiosity. #Cheers.
The Atlantic Ocean brings a briny influence to the wines of Spain’s Riaz Baixas giving the wine an underlying saltiness, enhanced by granite filled soils, enhancing the minerality found in the white flower, white peach, and lemon-lime. Licia, Martin Codax, and Fifineas are consistant go-to favorites.
Heading inland from Galicia, Spain’s Rueda has been producing quality Verdejo for centuries. Queen Isabella of Castile enacted protections over the vineyards that Rueda now covers during her reign in the 15th Century. Lime leaf, lemon blossom, and chamomile lift from the glass in Beronia’s Rueda Verdejo, where Belondrade Y Lurton highlights lemon balm, orange blossom, and a touch of oak in their stellar Rueda Verdejo Superior.
Heading down the coastline from Spain’s green Galicia into Portugal you find similar racy freshness, and punchy citrus notes in the white wines of northern Vinho Verde, with the fun, flirty white often delivering a bit of effervecence to enhance that freshness. Vinho Verde is some of the most affordable wine from Portugal, with bottles easily found for around $6-$9 produceres like Gazela, Broadbent, Aveleda, and Quinta de Raza.
Within Italy’s Northwestern Piemonte is a small DOCG area of Roero, home to Arneis, delivering a medium to full-bodied wine with structure and defiend character. Vietti shines with layers of apricots and ripe pear, melding with blanched almonds.
Though Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris can be considered a typical white variety, grown throughout Italy, France, California, Oregon, and beyond, the white wines of Alto Adige are anything by ordinary. High elevation vineyards sitting at the base of the Dolomites lock freshness in, while warm Italian summers ensure grapes ripen with the classic fruit-forward juiciness expected from the variety. Earthy, mineral intense, delicate, and delicious. Alois Lageder, RIFF, Elena Walch are favorites.
Similarly, Willamette Valley started their journey in wine growing and producing excellent Pinot Gris in the French style similar to the celebrated white wines of Alsace, France. With cool evenings, thanks to a strong diurnal shift from hot days to cold evenings, and a maritime influence from the Pacific bringing in cool breezes, and a hint of salty briny minerality, creating elevated expressions of the juicy variety, as displayed with the offerings from Chehalem, Ponzi, Willamette Valley Vineyards, and Alexana.
Not far from Alto Adige, in the hills of Vento where red wine grapes flourish to create luxurious Amarone is the Soave region creating textured, well-rounded wines from the Garganega variety. Somewhat like a cross between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Soave pops with an initial layer of acidity, mellowed on the back palate with orchard and stone fruit notes, and a lingering finish. Inama began in Soave Classico in the late 1950’s, focusing on the premium area to grow their luxurious wines with minimal intervention, celebrating history while embracing modernity. Inama Vigneti di Foscarino has subtle floral and nettle notes, with herbal thyme and chamomile, wrapped in a luxurious, layered palate.