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White wines for summer chillin'

Thursday - 5/31/2012, 10:42am  ET

Summer Whites

Scott Greenberg, Wine of the Week


Scott Greenberg,

WASHINGTON - While the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, may mark the official start of summer as June 20th this year, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the psychological beginning of the season.

And while I drink white wines just about any time because I really like white wines, the arrival of the summer season just gives me a great excuse to pretend to be vogue.

So if you're firing up the barbeque this weekend and you're looking for some fun wines to share with family, friends and neighbors this weekend, here are a couple of really delicious and affordable white wines to consider putting in your frig or on ice.

In the eastern part of Veneto, Italy, there is an area of especially fine vineyards with a wine-making tradition extending back to Roman times. This is home to Cantine Torresella winery, where the temperate climate and clay soils produce some of Italy's best wines. The 2010 Torresella Pinot Grigio hails from this prestigious pedigree and offers up flavors of white nectarine, ripe peach, Gala apple and Bosch pear all wrapped around a core of acidity and minerality. The finish is crisp and bracing. $10

Torrontés is a white wine that is often overlooked, but it shouldn't be, particularly if you're looking for a charming summer wine to chill out with. The 2010 Bodega Tamari Torrontés Reserva comes from the Fatima Valley in La Rioja, Argentina where the days are warm and the nights are cool, resulting in bright acidity that lets the true nature of the fruit shine through. Stylish scents of white flowers and tropical fruits shine through on the bouquet while citrusy flavors of grapefruit, nectarine and mango fall on to the wonderfully refreshing finish. $12

Michel Chapoutier is considered one of the most highly regarded winemakers in the Rhone Valley of France, particularly for his remarkable Hermitage wines. But Michel can also produce some incredibly value-oriented wines that deliver a lot for the money. The 2010 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc from the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation is made from a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc and delivers an explosion of green apple, orange blossoms, papaya and guava on a remarkably well-balanced frame. The rich mouthfeel carries weight and depth through the medium finish. $13

I have a hammock in the backyard that needs two things in it this weekend; me and a glass of 2011 Boxwood Winery Rose. This local beauty hails from Middleburg, Virginia where winemaker Adam McTaggart blends together merlot, cabernet franc and malbec to develop aromas of wild strawberry, kiwi and apricot and flavors of strawberry, bright cherry and watermelon that stay light and bright on the palate, thanks to the extraordinary balance. Abundant acidity keeps the finish refreshing and focused. $14

The Marlborough region, located in the northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand, is home to two valleys that produce world class Sauvignon Blanc wines; Wairau Valley and Awatere Valley. Villa Maria takes grapes from both areas and blends them together for the 2011 Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The aromatic nose of green grass and grapefruit pave the way for flavors of gooseberry, passion fruit and tropical fruit on the palate. A pop of lemon/lime acidity on the finish is lip-smacking delicious. $15

Rieslings routinely get a bum rap among American consumers, probably since many inexpensive rieslings cover up their flaws too much residual sugar, resulting in a sweet, cloying mess. But the wonderfully balanced 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling from the Columbia Valley in Washington State is just the thing for summer grilling. Originally conceived as a collaboration between the world-renown German winemaker, Dr. Ernst Loosen, and the winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michele, Bob Bertheau, this riesling delivers fresh and tangy flavors of orange blossom, white peach, lemon/lime undertones. A touch of wet stone seeps in on the lengthy finish. $20

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