The Wine Guy - Greg Walter


Interesting, refreshing wines for warmer weather

I am staring out my office window as I write this and the weather here in Sonoma is what whoever coined the phrase meant by “chamber of commerce weather.” It’s an absolutely stunning day in April. And even though my days are mostly consumed with tasting and exploring Pinot Noir, I have already moved full throttle into my summertime mode for wines: crisp, dry white and rose wines that can handle a chill are already taking up most of the door space in my refrigerator.

If you’ve been reading this column for a while you probably know that I have long been a Sauvignon Blanc and Rose lover. But I drink a lot of other white wines as well. I’ve assembled a list below of some of the wines I am drinking right now and would recommend you check out.

Let me say up front, that these are not necessarily the most complex or most expensive wines of their respective types; some of them are great values. I’m buying these for casual sipping and sharing with friends—and so I’m much more concerned about finding wines I can afford to keep buying and enjoy all through the summer.

The lists below are organized by wine variety or type and the wines are listed in alphabetical order. Any of these wines qualify as “go to” wines as far as my summer sipping is concerned.

Chardonnay. I am a very selective Chardonnay drinker — I do not really enjoy the over-oaked, big bruiser versions of this wine. I like those that offer more structure and elegance with the oak in the background, or no oak at all.

  • Auteur Wines Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2012, $32
  • Landmark Vineyards Chardonnay Sonoma County Overlook 2012, $23
  • Schug Carneros Estate Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2012, $25
  • Sojourn Cellars Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Sangiacomo Vineyard 2012, $45

Sauvignon Blanc. This is definitely the most frequently consumed white wine in my household or when I’m out. I love the crisp, bright-fruited styles and find that they really do pair well with any casual summer dishes.

  • Bartholomew Park Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Valley 2012, $24
  • Benziger Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley Frank Johnson Vineyard 2012, $26
  • MacLaren Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley Lee’s 2013, $25 (soon to be released)
  • Schug Carneros Estate Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma Coast 2013, $20

Other whites. There are a lot of other interesting white wines that I enjoy—from White Rhone blends to Riesling to Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris. The common thread again for me is bright fruit and very crisp acidity because that is what makes them the most versatile for sipping and pairing up with a meal.

  •  Anaba Wines Turbine White Rhone Blend Sonoma Valley 2011, $24
  • Domaine Carneros White Pinot Noir Carneros “Pinot Clair” 2012, $48
  • Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer Sonoma Coast 2013, $22.50
  • Pey-Marin Wines Riesling Marin County “The Shell Mound” 2012, $25
  • R2 Wine Co. Grenache Blanc Santa Ynez Valley 2012, $24.50
  • Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc Santa Ynez Valley Saraloos Vineyard 2012, $25
  • Valley Of The Moon Winery Pinot Blanc Sonoma Valley 2012, $23

Rose.  Lately I am finding myself really attracted to rosé wines. I love the brightness of the strawberry and other fruit flavors, but truthfully, I love the color of the wines as much as the wines themselves. It puts me in a better, more festive mood and they really make a meal feel like summertime!

  •  Bryter Estates Pinot Noir Rosé Sonoma Coast Gap’s Crown “Jubilee” 2012, $32
  • Dunstan Wines Rose Sonoma Coast Durell Vineyard 2013, (soon to be released)
  • Envolve Winery Rose Sonoma County 2012, $27
  • R2 Wine Company Hannah Rose Rosé 2012, $18

As always, you can email me with questions or comments at gswalter@pinotreport.com.

Greg Walter, a Sonoma resident for more than 20 years, has been in wine and food publishing for more than 30 years, 15 of which were spent as a senior editor and later president of Wine Spectator magazine. Today he writes the PinotReport newsletter (Pinotreport.com) and publishes books through his Carneros Press imprint (Carnerospress.com).

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