In case you stayed inside for the past few days, summer has officially arrived in Dallas with hot, steamy temps soaring to their usual summertime highs, requiring refreshing, easy to drink….and drink some more, patio style white wines be ready and waiting in your fridge every day. Here are a few pool ready, “porch pounders” to sip to help cool off any night of the week. A few selections were sent for editorial consideration, all are under $20 a bottle.
The “porch pounder” term actually came from the guys at Hope Family Wines who I was recently visiting as their guest at their Paso Robles winery, sipping several of their tasty wines including their Liberty School Chardonnay, but I will give this Chardonnay a slightly higher recommendation than just to drink to cool off, as it is also tasty when sipped on a cool fall night or a brisk spring morning. Filled with layers of green apple, fresh lemon and a touch of spice from fruit sourced both in Paso Robles as well as in the Santa Lucia Highlands at the Mer Soleil Vineyard (a relationship Hope Family has had for years with the Caymus family known for their classic Mer Soleil Chardonnay,) Liberty School continues to be a solid go to, everyday wine for both quality and taste, and affordability (around $14 a bottle.)
Also in Paso Robles Vina Robles makes balanced, juicy whites from their east side, Huerhuero Vineyard estate. Their varietally correct Vermentino could easily transport the palate to a coastal town in Italy. Made by fermenting the juice in both stainless steel and neutral French oak where it was aged 4 months sur lie to add complexity and texture to the crisp, creamy and clean white.
When you look at the bottle of Central Coast made SeaGlass Wines you are transported to the beach, making their easy to drink Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris the ideal thirst quencher, especially when very chilled and served with well iced oysters on the half shell or fresh gulf shrimp. The SeaGlass Riesling, made from Monterey County fruit, is filled with bright tropical fruit flavors with floral and citrus influences. Not completely dry, so will compliment slightly spicy dishes as well as seafood.
Biltmore Wines has produced another interesting, fresh and aromatic white with their Century White NV American wine blending Muscat Canelli, Reisling, Gewurztraminer and Malvasia, grapes that are known for their floral and fresh fruit aromas, this one marrying rose and white flowers with citrus, pineapple, mango and guava notes with bright acidity balancing out the honey, and ripe fruit sweetness.
Hahn Family Wines is making a name for themselves with their Central Coast Pinot Noir, an easy drinker showing up on many by the glass wine lists in town, they also make a light, fresh and honey filled Pinot Gris from Monterey County filled with tropical fruit, lemon peel and fresh lemon zest, great with summer salads filled with fresh greens like those grown just down the road from their vineyards, one of the largest lettuce producing areas in the country.
There are a lot of celebrities making wine these days, so I am admittedly a bit skeptical when I see another celebrity putting their name on a bottle. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I recently tried the Pinot Grigio from Drew Barrymore for her Barrymore Wines. Made in the northeast corner of Italy in prime Pinot Grigio soil the wine is fresh, crisp and filled with persistent layers of ripe apricot, lemon and orange blossom. Some Pinot Grigio wines can be a little too fruit forward for me, this one is nicely balanced with good acidity to match the fruit.
Beachhouse Sauvignon Blanc from the Western Cape of South Africa has a similar coastal feel, begging to be enjoyed with light summer salads filled with fresh from the garden mint, basil, and greens with tangy goat cheese, and juicy apple and pear. (I love adding fruit to salads to a little extra pop of flavor.) The bright acidity and freshness of this wine will enhance those fruit flavors without overwhelming, finishing soft and smooth.
Matua Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough regions of New Zealand expresses everything you know and love about NZ Sauv Blanc – big, pronounced layers of lemon, tangerine and grapefruit with grassy, mineral rich layers, and big, bright acidity, perfect for quenching your thirst.
From California, Pepi Sauvignon Blanc has some of those same citrus notes as a New Zealand wine, but much more subtle. Their 2012 has a fresh and flavorful palate with balance and appropriate levels of acidity, benefiting from the cooler climates of Clarksburg and Lake County, where the grapes are grown, to make this great on its own or with food.
Waterstone Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley brings more of the grassy, mineral notes of Sauvignon Blanc out, for more of a white Bordeaux style wine, adding 18% Semillon into the blend and then aging just slightly in neutral French oak to round out the flavors of this lemon, lime and tangerine filled wine with a touch of creaminess.
Heavily oak aged Chardonnay is not the go to for hot summer sipping, but there are many unoaked and lightly oaked Chardonnay, like the Liberty School, that work perfectly during the summer, great for enjoying with the chicken and white fish that fills grills this time of year. Veramonte from Chile is filled with very ripe apple and sweet pear with lively freshness from a majority of stainless steel fermentation and just a touch of creaminess and depth from minimal oak fermentation. A great summertime wine.
Russian River is known for their stone fruit and baked apple filled Chardonnay. Frei Brothers, a winery first established in 1890 in Sonoma County who most recently have reduced the total amount of water used by the winery 17% or a 5.4 million gallon reduction, along with putting major recycling actions and energy reduction practices into place. Their nicely textured, well rounded Russian River Valley Chardonnay shows why the cool climate is ideal for growing the variety, highlighting stone flavors with spice, golden apple and a touch of creamy vanilla, perfect for roasted chicken dinners.
If you are looking for something completely different, but will also pair nicely with a roast chicken, Angry Orchard Hard Cider is a new taste that I just love. Their oak aged, fermented apple cider, some with alcohol levels at 10%, made in a very similar manner to wine, brings depth and distinction to the world of cider. Made in Cincinatti, Ohio from a wide selection of apple varieties, producing complex, interesting and full flavored cider. Their Iceman Hard Cider was inspired by the Ice Ciders made in Quebec by freezing the apple juice to add depth to the cider, then aging it in barrels to develop texture, creaminess and spice flavors. Delicious on its own or added to a summer cocktail with ginger ale and bourbon with a squeeze of fresh lemon.