Bring On the Summer Whites
Namely some chardonnay, pinot gris, and sauvignon blanc picks that bring great value for the money.
Now this is the summer that we all imagined during those long, dark rainy months. Well actually, it’s probably about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than we imagined, but I digress.
Throughout most of the year, I drink an assortment of red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines at home. Come summertime, I switch to drinking almost exclusively to white wines and rosés. Who wants a big, heavy red—or even a light, elegant one for that matter—when the sun is out and it’s as warm as it has been?
I've already written about this year’s excellent crop of rosés, so let’s turn our attention to summer whites. Chateau Ste Michelle consistently produces high quality-to-price ratio whites. The winery’s 2013 offerings are no exception, including the 2013 Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($11) with its notes of kiwi and citrus backed by zippy acidity. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Pinot Gris ($11) is another value standout with its notes of melon and apple framed by a creamy texture.
A step up in price but also in quality is the 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Hills 2013 ($18). It’s redolent with pineapple and kiwi accented by barrel spices and tart, vibrant acidity—a thriller of a wine.
In terms of chardonnay, the Three Rivers Steel Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2013 ($14) hits the mark for a value, unoaked style with notes of apple, melon, and pear. Oregon chardonnay meanwhile has (deservedly) been receiving a lot of buzz lately. One wine that shows what the fuss is about but also provides a lot of value is the Stoller Family Estate Chardonnay Dundee Hills 2013 ($20). It brings notes of pear and apple with a beautiful sense of balance and tension to the acids.
The Northwest also makes a number of delicious but less common white varieties. From here in the Puget Sound, the San Juan Vineyards Estate Grown Siegerrebe Puget Sound 2013 ($18) (pronounced ‘see-geh-RAY-buh’) is aromatic with aromas of rose water, papaya, and pear leading to an off-dry palate with a textured feel. From Southern Oregon, try the Abacela Estate Grown Albariño Umpqua Valley 2013 ($20). With its green apple flavors and tart acidity, it practically screams out for shellfish.
Now remember when uncorking your whites this summer that they should be consumed chilled, but not ice cold—usually a little warmer than refrigerator temperature. This helps get the most out of the aromas and flavors (alternately if a wine is not very good chill it way down). Consider chilling your glasses in the fridge during the warmer months (okay, it’s more like six weeks here) and only pour the wine in small amounts. Putting it back in the fridge between servings to help keep it cool.