There's something about summer that unleashes the fun in us. Even the oldest of us take childish delight in stepping outside to enjoy the outdoors, whether it be on a boat, a beach, a chaise lounge, or a picnic blanket. If this your vision, image it with a glass of white wine.
Red wines like beaujolais and pinot noir are nice to sip, too, but the coolness and fresh acidity of white wine makes for a great foil to warmer temperatures. In today's column, we mostly step aside from the traditional grape varieties – chardonnay, pinot grigio, and sauvignon blanc – to offer 15 off-beat suggestions to get you into summer dreaming.
Aia Vecchia Vermentino 2016 ($15). We just loved the perfumy, grassy, and green apple aromas in this delicious Tuscan vermentino. Blended with a dash of vigonier to enhance the aromas, the wine has grapefruit flavors and a long, refreshing finish.
DeLille Chaleur Blanc 2016 ($40). We like a good dose of semillon in our sauvignon blanc. It tames the tartness and high acidity of sauvignon blanc and adds a layer of soft fruit. This blend from Washington's Columbia Valley is especially round with tropical fruit flavors and hints of oak-infused vanilla and caramel.
Tasca Regaleali Bianco Sicilia DOC 2017 ($15). We can't rave enough about this richly textured Sicilian blend of inzolia, grecanico, catarratto and chardonnay. It is foremost delicious but also refreshing. A perfect combination of acidity and fruit with notes of apples, pears, and peaches.
E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2015 ($16). This Rhone producer is known for its red wines, but this white is also a standout. Do not overchill this wine – as we mistakenly did. The flavors blossom at room temperature. It is an exotic blend of viognier (60 percent), roussanne, marsanne, clairette, bourboulenc and grenache blanc. Very aromatic – thanks to the viognier – with peach and pineapple notes, mineral and crisp acidity.
Garofoli Macrina Verdicchio die Castelli di Jesi 2017 ($14). This is an incredibly delicious, crisp dry wine from the Marche region of Italy. Made entirely of verdicchio grapes, this classico superiore has a perfumy bouquet and ripe peach flavors with a dash of tangerine and mineral. Garofoli also makes an exotic Podium verdicchio ($25) from a special selection of grapes that has more complexity and depth, but for the money we loved the Macrina.
Boutari Moschofilero 2017 ($17). We were stunned by this delicious Greek wine made from the obscure moschofilero grape that Boutarin saved from extinction. Generous floral aromas and flavors of citrus, pink grapefruit, and melon. It's a perfect sipping wine or one to serve with simple fare.
Boutari Santorini Assyrtiko 2016 ($35). From the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, thus luscious, intensely fruity wine made from assyrtiko grapes has plush citrus and stone fruit flavors.
Kim Crawford Signature Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($25). This New Zealand producer's sauvignon blanc is doing quite well in the U.S., but now comes a reserve sauvignon blanc made from select grapes. It's a gorgeous wine with big and bold flavors. Effusive, long-lasting flavors of tropical fruit, grapefruit, and citrus abound. More complex than your average sauvignon blanc.
Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc 2016 ($22). A grape common to the Rhone Valley, grenache blanc offers a combination of fresh acidity and huge aromatics. Lots of peach, apricot and mineral notes on this exotic, refreshing wine.
Steele Viognier 2016 ($19). Rarely do we find a viognier that has something more than great aromatics. But this one from Lake County, CA, delivers good fruit flavors. Aged in neutral oak for four months rounds off the acidity and opens the palate to apricot and peach flavors.
Imagery Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($20). Winemaker Jamie Benziger makes this is an intriguing blend of sauvignon blanc and dry muscat. Varietal citrus and grapefruit flavors abound but the muscat gives the wine a rounder texture.
Farmhouse California White Wine 2017 ($13). Five white grape varieties are blended with 41 percent palomino to make this cacophony of rich flavors. Slightly sweet, it has melon and pear flavors. It is a wine made on Cline Family's sustainable Green String Farm in Petaluma County.
Writer's Block Roussanne 2016 ($18). Jed Steele's son Quincy is behind this new label that applies old and new world techniques to some Rhone grape varieties. This roussanne seems to have one foot in each world with varietal acidity yet forward flavors and a viscous texture. Classic flavors of apricots and pears. It makes for a great aperitif.
Opolo Roussanne 2017 ($18). Made entirely from roussanne grapes grown in the Paso Robles region, this wine has green apple flavors, stone fruit aromas and firm acidity. It will refresh the palate or serve as a foil to chicken and most appetizers.
Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2014 ($20). We've been enjoying the wines from this venerable Alsace house for decades. The pinot gris reserve is easy to find and steady year to year. Generous floral aromas with apricot flavors and a dash of almonds.
Sonoma-Loeb Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2016 ($45). This Sonoma producer is making very good chardonnay and pinot noir wines these days. We liked this single-vineyard pinot for its smooth, ripe black cherry flavors with hints of espresso and anise.
Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2016 ($30). From the Willamette Valley, this perennial favorite of ours has great balance with luscious strawberry and cherry fruit flavors, dash of spice, and an earthy finish.
Inman Family OGV Estate Pinot Noir 2015 ($73). We just love the wines from Kathy Inman because they are so well balanced. Even this reserve from Olivet Grange Vineyard isn't overblown with extracted, bold fruit like so many pinots. Instead, it is refined with red berry notes, that umami character and hints of pomegranate and herbs. Very long finish with a dash of mineral.