By Rick Riozza

On the international world scene, we always traditionally think of a Sauvignon blanc, perhaps a troken (dry) German Riesling from Rheingau, or even the Austrian Gruner as one of the globe’s bracing and thirst-quenching wines to be enjoyed in the heat.

But for starters here, let’s begin with a fresh Chardonnay from the Mendoza Valley in Argentina.  No– it’s not one of the buttery Chardonnays that you can stick a fork in.

recently, I’ve been pouring Mascota Vineyards La Mascota Chardonnay, 2019 at the tasting wine bar.  You’d be amazed at how many ladies and gentlemen first refuse to even taste or think about trying a chilled Chard from Argentina—and it’s hot outside!  Some folks don’t like Chardonnay at all; others, a bit scared of trying a wine make so far away.

So, I agreeably and pleasantly pour them their cherished red request.  But…oops!  Someone joins in the tasting, tries the Mascota, and just can’t stop raving about this offered La Mascota Chard.  “All right– we’ll try it,” relent the red wine tasters.  Of course they love it– what’s not to love?  With waxy peach aromas, this wine is both, fresh and fruity with mineral and straw undertones; medium-bodied at most with peach, nectarine and melon flavors, pleasing bright acidity and a tangy finish.  And how often will I hear from those naysayers:  “It doesn’t taste like a Chardonnay.

So yes—it doesn’t taste like an over-oaked or full-bodied buttery Chard.  This wine is lean and clean.  A wonderful wine for the desert community, it’s a vibrant white that will go with all summer fare such as salads, seafood, and chicken.  And at only $8.99 a bottle, it’s the wine deal of the day/month/year!

Okay– so let’s get back to a discussion on Sauvignon Blanc.  We mention quite often that there are some particular styles to the Sauv Blanc depending on where it’s grown.  There are more than 10 countries that specialize in Sauvignon Blanc and each region offers a unique taste.  It seems as though a lot of folks like to stay in one particular style from one particular place, such as New Zealand, or California, or France.

Everyone seems to be the most vocal when it comes to Kiwi Sauv Blanc.  They either love it or hate it!  Most New Zealand stuff shows passionfruit, green pepper, lemongrass and gooseberry with razor sharp acidity.  California is generally mellower with round fruit flavors of white peach, grapefruit, and honeydew melon with medium acidity.  Sancerre is back on the zesty side with its steely notes of lime and green grass with its trademark chalky minerality.

A great deal in both quality and price is the Duckhunter at $15 a bottle.  This is certainly New Zealand in character and flavor profile—but, with a nod to California with its rounder tangs.  What’s wonderful about this Sauv Blanc is that there is so much going on.  If you like a simple one-note Sauv Blanc, stay away from this one.  “A well balanced Savignon Blanc, one that gathers the best elements of Marlborough and presents them like a fine string quartet, with the citrus, gooseberry, herb and wet stone all complementing each other from introduction to coda.  Oysters all around?”

The Duckhunter white mixes power with elegance, delivering generous lemon meringue, orange blossom, peach, and dried mango notes, with spice, green tea and floral details swirling about on the long, expressive finish.

Despite the fact that South Africa has a dry warm climate, the region produces quite a sizable amount of high-quality Sauvignon Blanc.  Within the Western Cape region there are several smaller distinct areas including Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Elgin (among others) that are known for producing barrel-fermented/aged Sauvignon Blancs with extreme power and finesse.

And now, some internationally refreshing wines:

Ch. de Nages Nimes Blanc V V 2015 (France).  Ripe and complex Rhone white that delivers a bold, flavored, and fruit-driven wine with structure that does not depend on oak.  I recommend this wholeheartedly; everyone enjoys it.  The texture of this green apple and floral white is smooth and luscious, a wonderful summer refresher to leave a lasting impression.  ($14.99)

Kupelwieser Pinot Grigio 2016 (Italy).  Paus homage to its Austrian roots, this Italian Pinot Grigio is linear and complex with laser-like mineral elements that are a welcome addition to the crisp and bright green apple and pear notes. ($19.99)

Groiss Gruner Beltiner 2015 (Austria).  Citrus aromas are the first thing to greet you upon raising the glass.  This bright and lemony wine has just the right balance of acidity and minerality.  Elegant with a light finish make for a nice poolside wine. ($10 per 1-L. Bottle) It’s time to try a Gruner!

Of course whenever I recommend an Austrian wine, I’m always pleased to mention Johannes Restaurant in Palm Springs.  Johannes Bacher is the Owner and Executive Chef of this fabulous, elegant, and fun and airy restaurant.  It’s the perfect eatery for these tough times.  He’s the artist-type in the kitchen, his subtle, creative dishes are exciting, and his cosmopolitan menu shows off the chef’s Austrian roots.  Cheers!

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