The summer heat this year just doesn’t seem to end. Time to break out the refreshing white wines.
You could, of course, go with rosé (I have some recommendations here) or a lighter red made to be drunk chilled. But it’s hard to beat a zippy white that’s not too oaky, heavy or high in alcohol. The recommendations that follow include wines that are flat-out refreshing as well as some that have a little more weight and complexity to pair with a light meal.
Bubbles are always a good way to start a meal, so let’s begin there. From Spain, the non-vintage Poema Pura Brut Cava ($15), like all cava, is made in the traditional method, like Champagne. This one uses organic grapes. The wine offers racy citrus, apple and a hint of almond paste with a touch of salinity, and it has some breadth on the palate, adding to its complexity.
Lately, I’ve been loving the whites from the Alentejo region of Portugal, and here are two great bargains to consider. The 2020 Marques de Borba Colheita Branco ($13) is fresh and persistent, with racy lemon flavors, accented by a wet stone character. The blend is dominated by arinto, if you know your Portuguese grapes.
Another good buy is the positively mouth-watering 2021 Esporao “Monte Velho” White ($12), which is similarly lemony, with good length and persistence.
Moving east to the Campania region of southern Italy, there’s the 2020 Petilia Fiano di Avellino ($18), which tastes like biting into a green apple at first, but unfolds on the palate with some fleshy, creamy notes.
The 2020 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio ($23) is a little softer and would be fine as an aperitif or with food. Its floral aromas lead to flavors of fresh lemon and lemon zest, along with a saline character.
Finally, back to California. One of my favorite whites of summer is the 2021 Dry Creek Dry Chenin Blanc ($16), a wine with racy apple and white peach flavors, along with some weight and fleshiness.
And if a lot of sauvignon blanc is just too grassy for your taste, here’s a stylish version from the Napa Valley. The 2021 Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($30) displays racy citrus notes, cantaloupe flavors and a touch of creaminess. The winery suggests pairing it with asparagus and goat cheese spring rolls.