By: Kas Vankoevering and Ann Coppinger
There is nothing better than a crisp, refreshing white wine to add a chill to this season’s warm temps. We wanted to select a great wine to feature through the summer months, order a lot and get a great price. After negotiating with each other and our distributors, we decided to select our three favorite summer quaffs to tantalize everyone’s tastes.
Our first choice is Portugal’s Vinho Verde. This is not a grape variety, it is a DOC (region) for the production of wine. The majority of Vinho Verde is white; made from local grape varieties Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso, and Azal. There is a lot to love about Vinho Verde. In addition to the delightfully zingy flavor, enjoy it chilled, on ice, with a splash of whatever juice you have on hand – it is also low in alcohol (around 8.5 to 11%) and super affordable. Don’t let the ‘H’ scare you. Vinho Verde (pronounced veen-yoh vaird) is a crisp wine that is light and refreshing, with the tiniest bit of fizz. Don’t let the ‘verde’ put you off either — it is not green. In this case green means young or new; it is released three to six months after the grapes are harvested. We think it also refers to the fact that you don’t wait to drink it. We sure don’t.
Pinot Grigio can’t be beat with appetizers on the porch or light summer dinners. The grape variety is Pinot Gris and is thought to be a mutant clone of Pinot Noir. In the vineyard the grapes can be blue-ish gray, pink, black or even white in color. Because of these color variations, Pinot Gris/Grigio wine can the vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. There are over 37,000 acres of Pinot Gris planted in the world and the wines vary by region and winemaking styles. While they can exhibit flavors of apple, melons or pears they all have the distinctive characteristic to be fresh, crisp, with a cleansing acidity. What more can you want?
How about Sauvignon Blanc? This grape originated in France; mostly in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Known as the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, in the 1800’s Sauvignon vines paired with Cabernet Franc vines to create the great Cabernet Sauvignons in Bordeaux. The grapes in the vineyard are usually green, budding late but ripening early.
While the varietal enjoys heat, higher temps will cause the wine to be flat or tasteless. Other than “terroir”, the winemaking techniques create a wide variation of flavors in Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand brought Sauvignon Blanc cuttings to the South Island in the 1990’s. They usually are more fruit-forward with grapefruit and melon flavors. French Loire Sauvignons can be smoky and minerally, Bordeaux can create dessert wines with Sauvignon and others are crisp, citrusy, and complex.
We will stack several different labels of these wines throughout the summer. All are our favorites. We hope you find some of your own.