Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Summerwines for Summertime

As you may have been able to tell from yesterday's post, I'm in the mood for summertime. When the temperatures climb there's nothing like a chilled white wine to put a smile on your face and a bit of pep in your step. In the summer, I tend to like wines that are either bracing (think: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) or brightly floral (think: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Rhone whites, Spanish Verdelho). Recently I had two whites that are widely available that fit the bill for summertime white wines perfectly.

The first wine, from the bracing side of the coin, was the 2002 Domaine des Baumard Savennieres. ($17.29, Costco; available for $16-$22 through online merchants) Loire fans like fellow wine blogger Brooklynguy think highly of wines from this region, and I've picked up a few of them over the years and not been disappointed with any of them. This bottling was a very good QPR example of a French Chenin Blanc with some age. Chenin Blanc can be held for quite a while if you've got a good cellar or wine fridge, so it's not one of those white wines that you have to drink before the summer is over for fear it will get tired. I purchased this bottle a year ago at the Costco in beautiful downtown Burbank, and was worried it was corked when I first opened it, but any possible taint blew off quickly. Once poured, the wine was pale straw in color. It had abundant and easily detected aromas of lime, chalk, and almonds. The flavors were also nutty, citrusy (somewhere between a lime and a lemon), and had some nice mineral notes thrown in there. The flavors were piercing and very intense, but not acidic or sharp. There was a chalky aftertaste left in your mouth after you sipped it. We had it with a citrus-rubbed salmon grilled on the BBQ and an Asian-style spinach salad with orange and avocado and the wine's citrus notes paired beautifully with all the citrus in the two dishes.

From the floral camp I tried a 2006 Pyramid Valley Kerner Estate Pinot Blanc from New Zealand. ($22.80, Garagiste; available through online merchants for $24-$32). Even though this wine is a little pricey, it is still an excellent QPR choice for the flavor and quality it delivers and is well worth the splurge if you are having a special dinner in June for a graduation, Father's Day, or pre-wedding event. Like the Baumard, the Pyramid Valley wine was noteworthy for its intensity of flavor and aroma. But in this case the aromas were of apple, honeysuckle, and beeswax and the flavors were of honeyed apple and stone. The wine had a juicy aftertaste and would be a nice change of pace for lovers of dry Riesling. It was so good we fought over who would get the last bit from the bottle! We had it with an equally aromatic dish of pork medallions with a light Chinese sauce of ginger and lemon. The honeyed notes in the wine paired beautifully with the ginger.

Whether you like your summer white wines bracing or floral, or somewhere in between, there are a lot of wallet-friendly choices out there for you to try. And stay tuned for next week's Wine Blogging Wednesday because white Rhone varieties make for terrific summer drinking, too.


Rebecca Rethore said...

You make a good point re: New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. I have to admit, I prefer tropical notes to overly-grapefruity ones in my SB, but lately I've been enthralled with a few New Zealand delights: Sileni SB (gotta love the addition of some Semillon); White Haven SB; Kim Crawford Spit Fire (small parcel) SB; and the Crossroads SB. The Spit Fire comes in a bit higher than $20 retail, but it's so worth the extra couple bucks! Great QPRs on each.

Nancy said...

I came across a very dry and bracing summer white lately: Zonte's Footstep Verdelho, from Langhorne Creek, Australia. The grape that makes madeira, transplanted and translated into a nice little sip that will go well with creamy, cold summer salads.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for the tips, Rebecca and Nancy. I haven't had the small parcel Kim Crawford, which I will definitely keep an eye out for, since I love the regular bottling. I love Australian verdelho, but we don't get many of them in my neck of the woods. Will check on line for that one, Nancy, to pair with summer salads.

David McDuff said...

At the $17 price point you nabbed it for, Deb, I'd have to put in a strong argument for an Excellent QPR rating for the Savennières from Baumard. As a point of interest, they're now bottling everything (as of 2005 I think) under Stelvin caps, so no further worries about the possibility of cork taint.

Dr. Debs said...

David, I'm sure you must be right about the Baumard--but I do think that maybe it had been damaged slightly so perhaps that's why only the sense that it was very good. I look forward to drinking more of their wine in the future. I purchased 2 bottles of their Clos du Papillon (sp?) so I have those to look forward to, as well.