Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hot Weather Wines Part 2: Whites

There is much on the internet in the way of summer wine recommendations with every kind of magazine with their own hired expert plugging what he/she thinks works best when the temperature hits the discomfort zone.  Without citing chapter and verse (and expert), here are some truisms I have gleaned.  Remember, this segment deals only with white wines.

We said last time that oak-aged whites, Chardonnay primarily, may not be optimal for these  times because of their heaviness.  Other fat, high extract, full-bodied new world wines like Viognier or Gewurztraminer would similarly conflict with the lightness theme.  Even some ordinary white varietals like Chenin Blanc, Colombard, or Trebbiano when made in new world forward fruit styles often end up being somewhat heavy in the mouth.  What does work well in these times are your standard European models: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Bianco, Dry Riesling, Spanish Albarino, Macabeo, and Verdejo, and countless types that are unknown to inhabitants two villages away from the vineyard.

Let's get even more specific.  If you like Sauvignon Blanc you may want to try French Sancerre or Pouilly Fume for best-of-kind examples.  For Pinot Grigio or Pinot Bianco, Northern Italian, Slovenian, Hungarian, or Romanian command the fruitier style while the French Alsatian style rules with austerity.  For dry Riesling look no further than Germany or Alsace.  If it's Chardonnay that you love, French Macon or Chablis (steel barrel) is the thing.  More arcane would be Gruner Veltliner from Austria and even more so would be Assyrtiko from Greece.  We have already mentioned Spanish Albarino but what about Portuguese Vinho Verde, perhaps the lightest wine of all.

What's noticeably missing from my list are sparklers and they are most appropriate for summer.  French Champagne, Italian Prosecco, and Spanish Cava all have their place and price point.  Cava is of course the bargain of the three but it is often heavier than the others.  Prosecco seems to always be light in the mouth and moderately priced but if you want the "bomb" in sparkling wine get a Blancs de Blancs French Champagne, the epitome of fine wine.

Sweet whites?  Yes!  European sweet whites are usually a lighter style again than new world wines with German Riesling and Italian Moscato being the leaders there.

This store is Pinot Grigio Central in the summertime.  This Friday from 5 to 7pm we will be tasting one of our best at $12.99/btl.  We will also have three other European whites open for tasting.  Next Tuesday we host importer, Bob Durand, and his personally selected Chilean line, Dogma.  Please join us for these events.

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