Even if summer is not techincally here, it feels like summer all over Florida, and if red wine is your typical choice, you should consider some cooler white wine options that still appeal to a red wine-focused palate.
I have to admit that I tend to drink more reds than whites, but I’ve really come to embrace a range of less common whites during the hot months. I look to wines that have more of a nose, both aroma and bouquet, since red wine tends to have more going on smell-wise. I also look to wines that aren’t flabby (i.e. Chardonnay), but have a zesty acidity, a brisk mineral character, that also shows complexity, a hallmark of most red wines. Since we all love a Top Ten List, here’s mine for summertime whites, both blends and monovarietals, which might not be on your radar but should be!
- Nadia Bianco by La Cappucina – This Garganega and Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Veneto has lovely floral notes, mainly from the indigenous grape of the region and the main component of Soave, Garganega. The Sauvignon Blanc brings that bright acidity, to really lengthen the finish. For $10 per bottle this wine should be your pick for any Beach Blanket Bingo, or just to pair with some fresh seafood!
- Aragosta Vermentino di Sardegna – Another Italian wine, this time from the island of Sardinia, where the grape Vermentino is the white king. The floral notes to this wine tend a little more to the herbal, and again on the palate, a brisk acidity with a strong mineral backbone make this a flavorful option for any seafood dish (there’s a picture of a prawn on the label) or just pair it with cheese and fruit. Under $15 this white has way more zip than your typical Pinot Grigio.
- Petite Roubié Picpoul de Pinet – This French wine from the Languedoc has had quite a resurgence in the last decade. Grown right on the Mediterranean coast, Picpoul has a saltiness to its minerality, and again herbal flowers dominate the nose with some tart fruit components, like carambola or quince, on the palate. They pair it with local shellfish and seafood dishes and most are under $12 per bottle.
- Ballot Millot Aligoté – This lesser-known White Burgundy grape was the original wine used to create the classic Kir (just add some Crème de Cassis, and Voila! You have Kir). It’s related to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but has a citrus zestiness and a more pronounced mineral component than the typical Chardonnay. The wine is still richer on the palate than most of these whites, but not heavy, and though it’s about $17 per bottle, it’s still a better deal than most White Burgundies.
- Valckenberg Pinot Blanc – Just over the border we find the German wine region of Rheinhessen where these grapes are grown. Not that far from Alsace and Burgundy, this German wine has a truly French character and is such a deal under $15. Pinot Blanc, the white clone of Pinot Noir, has Chardonnay-like characteristics but with a little more elegance and finesse. There is a rounder mouthfeel, but very little oak, to let the fruit acids shine through. Pair this with scallops and lobster or creamy cheeses.
- Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc – From the cooler coastal Chilean wine region of Casablanca, this is one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever had from Chile. Yes, there is gooseberry and a hint of grapefruit, but compared to most New Zealand Sauvy, this grapefruit is subtle, part of a larger citrus salad of aromas and flavors. Everything you like about a Sauvignon Blanc with just a little elegance on the finish, and it’s $12 per bottle with some impressive scores!
- Jules Taylor Grüner Veltliner – An Austrian grape grown in New Zealand and made into a crisp wine by one of the best winemakers “Down Under Over.” This is the perfect sushi wine, where the subtle mineral notes don’t overwhelm the complexity of sushi, yet still cleanses the palate in a delightful way. Don’t let the tall, thin bottle fool you, this is not sweet, though there are some tart apple and lime zest components. At $15 this wine gives you a lot of flavor for the price.
- Edgebaston Honey Shale Hill – A South African white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, where the former provides bright acidity and the latter ripe roundness to find a perfect balance. The Viognier also brings a classic floral nose, with honeysuckle and white flowers, without being overdone or sweet. Pair this wine with roast chicken or heavier fish like salmon or swordfish or drink alone in the afternoon as there is enough going on to make it enjoyable all on its own.
- Dalliance White – From Lake County, California, this blend is similar to #8 featuring mainly Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, but with just a little Chardonnay and Riesling to fill it out. At under $10 per bottle this wine is a steal and gives maximum flavor for a minimum price. Made by Clay Shannon exclusively for ABC, this is the perfect wine for you summertime romance at the beach or by the pool or just one hot summer afternoon paired with an array of cheeses. Floral up front but it has refreshing acidity on the palate and a pleasantly lingering finish.
- La Ardilla Moscato – Yes this is an anomaly since it is a sweet wine, but this Spanish Moscato has a little more reserve than its Italian counterparts, though it still has the slight fizz. Even dry wine lovers can enjoy a softer, sweeter wine for brunch, that has a lower alcohol content to enable you to be productive for the rest of the day. Redolently floral, as we expect from this grape, but there is a subtlety and restraint that makes it a very pleasing package, named after a squirrel and only $12.
You don’t have to try all ten, but pick a few from the list and branch out with your RWO (Red Wine Only) friends – you may be surprised by how much you like these non-typical white wines. And remember if these don’t work for you, there are always dry rosés! Cheers!
Daniel Eddy, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine and spirits supervisor
Wine Pairing Examiner for Examiner.com
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineDanE