August is one of the hottest months, no matter where you live. Whether it's dry heat, high humidity, or passing thunderstorms, weather keeps us indoors these days. Sipping on a cabernet sauvignon in such trying times is met with palate resistance even with the AC cranked up. Our palates are thirsting for a cool white wine with refreshing acidity.
You've gone through countless chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, and pinot grigios, right? This week, we're tempting you with some unusual wines. We discovered these over the last month or so and we're intrigued by their unusual flavors.
Because these white wines are unusual, they may be hard to find. If you can't these specific producers, ask for a substitute who uses the same grape variety. Have fun!
Gotin del Risc Godello 2013 ($15). From the Bierzo region of Spain, this luscious godello will remind you of pinot grigo. But it is not. Very broad flavors of pears and apples with aromas of freshly cut flowers. Soft and generous mouthfeel.
Quinto da Raza Vinho Verde 2016 ($12). This is a terrific, fresh vinho verde made from the indigenous Portuguese grapes arinto, azal, and trajadura. Excellent fruit flavors of apple and pear with crisp acidity and a bit of frizzante.
Vietti Roero Arneis 2016 ($23). Now in its 50th year, this bottling excites the palate with a bit of frizzante, good acidity, and lively citrus and melon flavors. Clean and refreshing to the palate, it employs the arneis grape that this producer popularized in the 1960s. Although it dates back to the 1400s, only recently has the grape variety achieved recognition.
E. Guigal Condrieu 2015 ($65). Tom remembers a stay at a Relais & Chateau in the village of Condrieu back in the 1980s. An incredible dinner was accented with his first Guigal Condrieu, one of the most exotic white wines he's ever tasted. Nowhere else does the viognier grape reach such heights. Very aromatic, the Condrieu is complex with stone fruit flavors and a delicacy that would complement any fine dinner.
E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2015 ($15). From the same great producer, this reasonably priced blend – usually clairette, grenache blanc, bourboulenc and viognier – resembles the higher priced Condrieu in style. It is dominated by honeysuckle, pear and mineral notes.
Quevedo Oscar's White 2016 ($16). Okay, you have never heard of the grapes: viosinho, gouveio and arinto. But, maybe that's what makes this Portuguese wine so much fun. It's spirited with generous aromas of fresh tropical fruit and pear, citrus flavors with a good bit of mineral.
Vinas del Vero La Miranda Secastilla Garnacha Blanca 2013 ($15). From old bush vineyards in the foothills of the Pyrenees of Spain, this fruity and delicious wine is made from a light-skinned mutation of the red grenache grape. Highly aromatic, it burst in white stone fruit flavors, citrus and a dash of spice. It may be aged a little too long in oak, but if you like those flavors, you'll love this softly textured wine.
Jean-Marc Brocard Saint-Bris Ica-onna Sauvignon 2015 ($17). A sauvignon blanc from Burgundy?
Yep, this fun and lively wine comes from the Saint-Bris AOC, located near the Yonne Department and southwest of Chabis. Classic sauvignon blanc aromas but with a bit of sulphur and stone fruit, flintstone, and smooth texture. Less acidity than most sauvignon blancs but more body.
Monte dos Cabacos Tinto 2009 ($21). Wow, talk about delicious. A Portuguese blend of alicante bouschet (45 percent), touriga nacional, aragonez, and cabernet sauvignon, it has ripe black fruit flavors and a rich, lasting finish.
Abbazia di Novacella Sylvaner Alto Adige DOC 2016 ($18). This region in northern Italy produces some amazing and refreshing wines from grapes unfamiliar to most of us. Ever hear of schiava, for instance? This sylvaner is an elegant, delicious white wine that offers a lot of refreshing tropical fruit and apple flavors.
Capofaro Malvasia Didyme Salina IGT 2016 ($25). The first dry malvasia to made on the Sicilian island of Salena, this fascinating white wine finesse. Very aromatic, it has balanced acidity and herbal notes.
Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc 2016 ($22). This producer makes the only estate-grown grenache blanc in Napa Valley. It's aged in stainless steel to preserve its bright acidity and clean stone fruit flavors.
COOL RED WINES
Cantina Dolianova Dolia Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 2015 ($13.50). On the Italian island of Sardinia, grenache is known as cannonau. Whatever you call it, this wine offers blackberry and ripe plum notes with good acidity, a dash of bacon, and medium body. It is an ideal wine to pair with pizza and burgers.
Abadia Retuerta Sardon de Duero Seleccion Especial 2013 ($30). It is hard to express how much we loved this Spanish blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and other red grape varieties. It is a big wine that can be aged or paired with a good steak, and it is a wine that can be enjoyed in even warmer days alongside the grill. From the Ribera del Duero's "golden mile," the wine is loaded with rich blackberry aromas and flavors with a dose of cocoa and vanilla.
Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon 2014 ($15). When you think of the Loire Valley, you think of sauvignon blanc. But in Chinon the primary grape is the red cabernet franc. From one of the most respected producers in the region, this Chinon is made to age but on release shows off luscious blueberry and blackberry fruit. We recently opened an 8-year-old Baudry Chinon and it was drinking beautifully with soft, mature fruit, intense aromas and good length.