Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Relief

Well it's summer and it's been hot - what do you say we look at a few lighter-bodied whites to beat the heat? Hardly original, so hopefully, I can put together a nice mix of wines for your enjoyment.

2010 Terlato Family Vineyards (Russian River Valley) - We associate the Russian River Valley in Sonoma with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but how about Pinot Grigio? Well, judging by this wine from the Terlato family of Lake Bluff, IL that owns several properties in California, the variety works beautifully in this cool zone. Head winemaker Doug Fletcher made a wide decision fermenting 35% of the wine in neutral oak barrels to add more texture; this is medium-full with inviting apple and dried pear aromas and a flavorful finish with very good acidity. I've tasted this wine from several vintages and have always been delighted with the balance, richness and varietal character it displays; it's one of the most consistently excellent versions of Pinot Grigio in California. ($24)

2009 Tangley Oaks Chardonnay "Lot #6" (Sonoma Coast) - Here's a Chardonnay from the highly regarded Sonoma Coast zone that is a nice find for those not looking to spend a lot of money. This one has aromas of almonds, spiced pear and baked apples, is medium-bodied and has a rich, earthy finish that has a slight bitterness on its own, but becomes much more appealing when paired with the ideal food, such as grilled chicken or shrimp. This delivers a lot of flavor for the $16 price tag. (Both this wine and the Terlato Pinot Grigio are represented by the Terlato Wine Group of Lake Bluff, IL).

2011 William Cole Sauvignon Blanc "Columbine Special Reserve" (Casablanca Valley, Chile) - There are so many excellent examples of Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, as I've noted in these pages over the past few years; most of them are from cool growing areas such as Leyda or Casablanca Valley. This one is from the latter area and it's always a pleasure to taste this wine from this ultra consistent producer.  One smell and you instantly know you're dealing with Sauvignon Blanc, given the spearmint, chervil and freshly cut hay aromas. Medium-bodied, this has a pleasing finish with very good persistence, distinct herbal notes and tangy acidity. What a nice wine on its own or paired with just about any type of shellfish. A very nice value at $16 (Imported by Global Imports, Berkeley, CA).

2010 Vigne Surrau Vermentino di Gallura Supriore "Sciala" - What a pleasure to drink a well made Vermentino any time of the year, but especially in the summer. Many of the finest examples originate from the Gallura area of northeastern Sardinia; the wines here have excellent character with a touch of saltiness, derived from the vineyards being so close to the sea. This bottling from Vigne Surrau has sumptuous aromas of honeydew melon, Bosc pear and jasmine, is medium-full on the palate and has the lively acidity you expect from this variety, very good persistence and just a touch of saltiness in the finish. Enjoy this now or over the next year and a half; this is especially good with mussels or clams. $25 (Imported by A.I. Selections, New York City, NY).

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