There’s no doubt that, with the sweltering summertime heat upon us, one of the best ways to cool down is with a chilled glass of white wine. But are you tired of the same old bottles you’ve turned to for years now? Ready to discover some new favorites?
Below are white wines from California to South Africa that are sure to be winners at your table, served with everything from succulent tomatoes, fresh zucchini, and farmstand corn to grilled fish, barbecued chicken, and even a simply grilled steak.
All of the wines below were sent to me as samples. Out of the 50+ white wines I tasted over the last several months, these were my top 15. Note: I didn’t include any of the Gewürztraminers I sampled since they will be featured in a separate post.
Next to each wine, I’ve included my impressions, along with tasting notes. Click on the name of the producer to find out where to buy them.
$20 and Under:
Baron de Ley Blanco 2017 ($11.99) Country: Spain. Region: Rioja. Grapes: 93% Viura, 7% Malvasia. Intriguing aromas of exotic tropical fruits, wild herbs and dill. On the palate, medium-bodied with a good balance of acidity and alcohol and a long creamy finish. An excellent choice with Spanish tapas like gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes), patatas bravas (crispy potatoes), pimientos rellenos de atun (tuna-stuffed red peppers), and hard boiled eggs with sardines and mayonnaise.
Citari Conchiglia Lugana 2016 ($10) Country: Italy. Region: Lugana, Lombardy. Grape: 100% Turbiana.Tasting Notes: Very aromatic of bright citrus notes, it reminded me of lemon meringue pie. On the palate there is that initial burst of citrus, along with apple and peach flavors. It finishes with a pleasant creamy mouthfeel. Note: Lugana wines can be difficult to find. Ask for them at your favorite restaurants and your local wine shop. Pair with Seafood Pasta with Tomatoes. Other producers to look for: Otella, Montonale, Zenato, Ca dei Frati.
Chateau Greysac Le Blanc de Greysac 2018 ($18) Country: France. Region: Bordeaux. Grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting Notes: Distinct nose of a classic Sauvignon Blanc — lemon, grapefruit, and a touch of grassiness — all very subtle and reminiscent of Sancerre. On the palate, very tasty! Lots of bright acidity and lemon and grapefruit flavors with a long finish.
Donnachiara Greco di Tufo 2017 ($15) Country: Italy. Region: Campania. Grape: 100% Greco di Tufo. Tasting Notes: The enticing aromas of tropical fruit, banana and peach follow through on the palate with a mouthwatering acidity and a long, juicy finish.
Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño 2018 ($18) Country: Spain. Region: Rias Baixas, Galicia. Grape: 100% Albariño. Tasting Notes: A fresh and fruity wine with a lot of peach and plum flavors. The enticing aromatics lead you to a well-structured wine with a lot of roundness and a long aftertaste.
Hervé Azo Petit Chablis 2017 ($20) Country: France Region: Chablis, Burgundy. Grape: 100% Chardonnay. Tasting Notes: A very mineral, lean style of wine with racing acidity that stimulates the appetite and has you screaming for food! I would pair this wine with oysters, raw fish, really any kind of seafood. Also, salads and goat’s cheese or other tart, earthy cheeses.
Pagos del Galir Godello 2017 ($19) Country: Spain. Region: Valdeorras, Galicia. Grape: 100% Godello. Tasting Notes: Enticing aromas of peach and white flowers with a round and creamy mouthfeel. I love the notes of honey and the pleasing bitterness on the finish. The nice balance of fruit and acidity makes this a great aperitif wine, as well as for an entire meal.
Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio 2018 ($16) Country: Italy. Region: Alto Adige. Grape: 100% Pinot Grigio. Tasting Notes: In my opinion, the best Pinot Grigios come from the Alto Adige region in the Tyrolean Alps. This is one of them and it delivers freshness and lots of complex flavors. It has a very dry, savory quality and a stony minerality (with a slight iron-like aroma), yet it’s round and creamy with hints of ripe pear, almond, and licorice. Tip: They’re selling it by the glass at the brand new Arthouse Hotel Wine Bar on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (77th & Broadway).
Reyneke Vinehugger White 2018 ($17) Country: South Africa. Region: Stellenbosch. Grape: 100% Chenin Blanc. Tasting Notes: Very floral and aromatic. Loads of honeysuckle, pineapple, and fresh mint. Lush and creamy on the palate. Finishes with a pleasant bitterness, and leaves behind a taste of honey. Note: The grapes are sourced from organic vineyards just 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Santiago Ruiz Albariño ($19) Country: Spain. Region: Rias Baixas, Galicia. Grapes: 76% Albariño, 11% Loureiro, 5% Treixadura, 4% Godello, 4% Caiño Blanco. Tasting Notes: Very aromatic with notes of peaches and flowers. It tastes drier than expected with a slight, but enjoyable bitterness and a stony minerality. I even detected a hint of oyster shells. There’s a roundness on the palate with medium acidity. This wine is excellent with any type of seafood.
$20 - $35:
Domaine Delaporte Chavignol Sancerre 2016 ($27) Country: France. Region: Loire Valley. Grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting Notes: A classic Sancerre with lively acidity and lots of lemon and mineral-like flavors that invigorate the palate. One of the best Sauvignon Blancs I’ve had recently - just delicious!
Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio Riserva “Giatl” 2016 ($33) Country: Italy. Region: Alto Adige. Grape: 100% Pinot Grigio. Tasting Notes: Aromas of stone fruits and herbs. The texture is round and creamy with a zingy acidity and a long finish with a taste that reminds me of lemon meringue pie. There’s a hint of bitterness on the finish that balances out the rich fruitiness of the wine. Tip: Serve with Mushroom and Hazelnut Risotto.
T. Berkley Chenin Blanc 2016 ($28) Country: USA. Region: Mendocino, California. Grape: 100% Chenin Blanc. Tasting Notes: Quite aromatic with notes of honeysuckle. On the palate, the flavor of honey comes through along with a lovely, fresh acidity and a round and creamy texture. The finish is super long and honeyed. This is a wine to have with food! I loved it with buttered dill pasta and broccoli, carrots.
Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2015 ($68) Country: France. Region: Chablis, Burgundy. Grape: 100% Chardonnay. Tasting Notes: Slight notes of oak aging are evident: subtle vanilla and buttery aromas (35% ages in 3 to 5 year old oak barrels). On the palate there is a bright, mouthwatering acidity, along with a slightly round texture that coats the mouth with just a touch of oak flavor. Would be GREAT with lobster!!
Hugel Grossi Laue Riesling 2011 ($71) Country: France. Region: Alsace. Grape: 100% Riesling. Tasting Notes: Smelling this wine is like putting your nose in a fruit salad! Lots of fresh tropical fruit aromatics: pineapple, melon, strawberry, papaya, and kiwi. The taste is reminiscent of an exquisite piece of fruit-flavored candy, but with a refreshing, medium-high acidity and a bit of roundness and texture. In a word, YUM!