I am often asked what my favorite bottle of wine is or which varietal do I prefer most, and honestly it is like if I asked a mother of four which child was her favorite, it is just impossible to have one favorite. But, like anyone, there are a few in the many bottles I enjoy that do stand out and that I will seek out on a wine list. This is by no means an entire list, but a few suggestions if you are looking for a great bottle of white to enjoy this summer. A few selections have been sent for editorial consideration in the past.
Yes, this is on every list of white wine or Chardonnay I put together, I love Miner Chardonnay, specifically the Wild Yeast from Dave Miner and his Miner Family Vineyards. It was one of the first wineries I visited in Napa and year after year Dave and his wonderful winemaker Gary Brookman continue to produce a stellar wine made from native yeast strains, undergoing 100% malolactic fermentation and aged for 14 months in 70% new French oak.
One of my favorite places in the world is sitting on the patio at Domaine Serene in Willamette Valley, looking out over their vineyards, drinking a glass of their Etoile Chardonnay. Filled with golden apple, pear and balanced citrus, with hints of fresh cream and baking spices from the 16 months of French oak aging (none of which was new) creating a delicate and interesting wine with a silky finish. This is a wine to linger over, as each sip is special.
I recently traveled to Greece as a guest of New Wines of Greece, exploring unusual varieties with power and distinct flavor. Several stood out, which I will note in upcoming posts, including the powerful, high acid white from Santorini, Assyrtico. One favorite came from Gaia Wines, their Thalassitis Assyrtico, made from hand harvested grapes grown in basket vines that are 80+ years old. Gaia has a delicate touch with this acidic grape, creating a wine filled with honeysuckle and citrus that is best served after decanting for about an hour.
Line 39 Sauvingon Blanc was a surprise I recently had from Lake County, CA. Filled with pronounced grapefruit, lemon and orange notes, but not overpowering like some Sauvignon Blancs can be, this was refreshing and light, a great wine to sip by the pool or patio any day.
Adelsheim Pinot Blanc from one of the pioneers of wine in Willamette Valley, David Adelsheim. The winery is better known for their incredible Pinot Noir, but this light, crisp and easy drinking Pinot Blanc has the same amount of character as all of Adelsheim’s wines, proving that this not so commonly seen varietal thrives in the Oregon terroir.
Another not so common varietal is Verdejo, the white wine from Spain that is filled with layers of gooseberry, stone fruit and citrus, somewhat like a Sauvignon Blanc, but lighter with easy drinking and refreshing style. Tapena from the Ferrer family makes an approachable Verdejo for a great price that is an ideal pairing with grilled fish and big summer salads.
Soave, when done well, is an amazing wine bringing together characteristics often enjoyed in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, while still maintaining its own since of style. Sound impossible? Some Soave wines do this beautifully, like Inama. Their Soave, made from the Garganega grape, brings together floral and herbal notes with stone fruit, light citrus and spice, while maintaining a layer of minerality from the volcanic soil the grapes are grown in. Elegant, interesting and well-rounded, a great option if you are looking for something a little different with great flavor and personality.
Bressia Lagrima Canela, or cinnamon tears in Spanish, blends Semillon with Chardonnay to create a silky, supple white filled with tropical fruit flavors with vanilla and spice, that is delicious on its own or pairing with roast chicken or white fish in a lemon-butter sauce.
Terroir Coquerel from Dallasites Brenda and Clay Cockerell will make anyone a solid Sauvignon Blanc lover. Created in the traditional French White Bordeaux style from Calistoga, CA fruit, this wine is filled with passion fruit, mineral and grassy notes married with slightly toasty, creaminess from the barrel fermenting of the wine followed by 6 months of “sur lie” aging, or leaving the wine on the lees to help round out the flavor profile and add texture to the wine.