As it’s getting a lot warmer each day we get more and more of our guests asking for a white wine they can enjoy in the hot days to follow… that isn’t Chardonnay. The ABC: Anything But Chardonnay wines. This is not an unusual thing to occur this time of year; people are looking for wines that are a little lighter and maybe a little fruitier to drink in the summer. Chardonnay sales seem to dip a bit this time of year as sales of some alternatives increase. For those alternatives, we have many wines to choose from, especially wines made in California & Oregon.
From Lake County, in Northern California, the people at Shannon Ridge Winery produce a few very good examples of Sauvignon Blanc. These crisp, bright and fruit forward Sauvignon Blancs really hit the spot when the weather turns from hot to hotter. One of my favorite of these is the Vigilance Sauvignon Blanc, which is a steel-tank fermented white allowing the beautiful pineapple, melon and grapefruit flavors and aromas of Sauvignon Blanc to show through. Which I guess is, in my mind, the difference between a clean, crisp summer white wine and an oaky, smoky Chardonnay. Now there are some good unoaked Chardonnays, Paradise Sound for example, but for the most part this is a good time of year to try a new ABC wine.
A very refreshing new wine from Sugar Plum is their Riesling. This an off-dry style that is full of green apple, pear and apricot flavors with some sweetness, but a lot of fun. The kind of wine to have in plenty in a tub of ice while you and your friends are playing volleyball, bocce or an intense game of cornhole. Another delicious wine to enjoy in the heat is the Pinot Gris from the Maysara family of wines. This Oregon wine has a brilliant golden color and a nose of pineapple & spice with the flavors of fresh mangos, pears and honeydew. A perfect wine with Asian foods or some grilled shrimp on top of some coconut rice.
Regardless which way you turn, there are many white wines to try outside of the realm of Chardonnay. So take a look around your favorite wine shop and see how many great choices you have from white wines like Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Rousanne, and Pinot Blanc along with many others. Another good way to experiment with new wines is to attend one of your local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine tastings…ok, shameless self-promotion, but wine tastings are a fantastic way to be exposed to new wines.
Ken Amendola, Wine Supervisor, North Florida
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinekena