By Rick Riozza
So when the sun is shining out here in the desert—as it well tends to do!–there are a few things more refreshing than a glass of chilled white wine. Now whether you prefer a light rosy & apple-y dry German Riesling, an aromatic California Viognier, a new un-oaked Chardonnay just out on the market, or something else that reminds you of the summer holidays (of the past perhaps), there are some delicious whites still to be savored in time for the setting summer.
I know; we’ve been sequestered at home for an unbelievable length of time, no one’s really concerned this year on the particular wines we’re enjoying in any weather season be it spring, summer, or fall. Traditionally, it’s always been fun writing about the particular wines that fit a particular time of the year. Of course, all beverage bets are off these days. Actually the title of this piece is meant to be ironic.
If a bombastic Petite Sirah puts a smile on your face during a late patio dinner while it’s still 100 degrees out—the more power to you! It’s kind of crazy, but I’ve noticed I’m enjoying a lot more chilled down Pinot Noir this summer than I’m used to at this time in our desert. Usually—I’m trying out all kinds of refreshing white wines to deal with the heat.
The point these days it that we’re getting by with any decent bottle of wine that comes our way. But—it wouldn’t hurt to talk about and highlight some of the delicious white wines that are still making through the wine ethos in these most challenging of times.
One of “reasons” traditionally for enjoying refreshing whites in the hot summertime, is that they are light in body and light in alcohol! I’m not sure “lighter in alcohol” is such a persuasive argument these days! I’m hearing from many quaffers out there that they desire a “stiffer” white wine to help cope during these difficult days.
A tasty wine that come to mind and fits the bill of substantial summer sipper is The Prisoner Wine Company 2018 Blindfold White Wine Blend ($30). It’s a wine that is both relatively crisp and full-bodied—which means it’s capable of being sipped on its own and can match up with a full-course meal. And this is what we’ve come to expect from the portfolio of the Prisoner Wine Company. Most of you are familiar with their red blend Prisoner wine and the just as popular Saldo Zinfandel wines. These are fruit-forward wines that are interesting and complex in the taste profile.
The Blindfold White Blend is a unique California spin in the “blended wine” category. It begins with a classic Chardonnay wine base and then combines Rhone and aromatic varietals resulting in an interesting blend with distinct quality and character. Blindfold sources Chenin Blanc from a vineyard in Mendocino, while its Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier originate from growers in Santa Barbara.
As I mentioned above, this wine can be sipped on its own—sort of a tropical-style cocktail with aromas of lychee, stone fruit, citrus, apple pie and peach. The flavor profile continues with some toasted hazelnut and Mandarin orange notes; it’s balanced by bright acidity and minerality. The finish continues both bright and a creamy richness with flavors of lemon zest and caramelized sugar. It’s kind of a wine for all seasons and reasons—both refreshing and substantial. It pairs well with chicken, seafood, and salads. And you’ll wish to chill this wine down to around a perfect 50 degrees.
Another white wine that I found to be surprisingly tasty and so reasonably priced is the 2018 Hess Select Monterey County Chardonnay ($14). You Chardonnay fans know already the quality that comes from Monterey’s combination of moderate climate and marine influences from the Pacific Ocean—an ideal climate for growing Chardonnay. This wine offers tropical aromas of grilled pineapple with a hint of lemon zest. Nicely balanced, this Hess Select is medium-bodied with layers of sliced peaches and golden delicious apples, finishing crisp and clean with well-balanced acid.
As I continue to mention, during the pandemic, we wine columnists have kept in touch with many wineries and winemakers by way of virtual wine tastings where we sample wines in real time and zoom in with the winemakers on the computer. Just last month, I had the privilege to meet and greet on Zoom with one of Italy’s best sommeliers, Roberto Anesi, who, from location on the peaks of the pristine Dolomites, walked us through Italy’s most artisanal sparkling wine areas: the Trentodoc.
Sparkling Trentodoc wines come from Trentino, a mountainous region in the northeast of Italy. They are made using exclusively the Classic Method/“true Champagne style”, or “Metodo Classico,” as they have been for 150 years. Only four grape varieties grown in Trentino can be used to make Trentodoc wine—two French & two Italian varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier & Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco.
Many of the wines from the area are 100% Chardonnay; and,Trentodoc Chard gives the wine its longevity, its intense aroma, and its classic varied fruit flavors.
The 2013 Rotari Brut ($18) is an iconic expression of viticulture from the hills and terraces which lie along the swift flowing Adige River, in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains; produced with 100% Chardonnay grapes from the best vineyards in the hills of Trentino. It’s fragrant, intense and elegant; showing crisp minerality and finesse that only can be found in the Dolomite region. The nose is precise, expressive, and refreshing, with notes of jasmine, white flowers, nuts and brioche. The palate is all good citrus with a touch of salinity. Taste the Trentodoc!—Cheers!