By The Glass
Summertime is perfect time for white wines
IT STILL amazes me how much more red wine we sell at Vintage Wine Cellar than white. Our island climate, foods and lifestyle are so much more conducive to white wines.
With summer in full swing, it is definitely white wine time! And while chardonnay is still the most popular variety, take the opportunity to find other whites that will float your boat. Pinot blanc, sauvignon blanc and viognier are just some of the other white-grape wines that make sense.
Vignalta Pinot Blanc ($15.99): This ancient Burgundian grape variety has been successfully grown in the Veneto region of Italy for about three centuries. Vignalta's pinot bianco grapes are grown in a high-elevation vineyard and after fermenting at cool temperature, the wine is kept several months on its lees. This wine ages very well in the bottle, developing an intriguing mineral complexity. A classic wine that pairs with appetizers and first courses based on seafood -- try it with shrimp tempura -- and vegetables.
Vignalta Dry Muscat ($15.99): This distinctive wine is made from white muscat grapes fermented to complete dryness. It was first produced in 1990 and since then has been one of the most characteristic Vignalta wines. "Its floral bouquet and the long finish makes (it) one of the best aromatic wines in Italy," says the Italian food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso. Perfect as an aperitif, it also complements shellfish and seafood, is perfect with asparagus and also matches well with Asian dishes.
Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc ($20.99): I still have fond memories of my trip to South Africa nearly 10 years ago. Only a few wineries were making outstanding wine, and Mulderbosch was one. Today Mulderbosch is known for its sauvignon blanc. It has a tropical "nose," packed with guava, ripe and green fig, granadilla, lychee and poha berry -- yet maintains a complex character of nettle and freshly cut grass. The mouth-filling ripe fruit is supported by crisp acid. This is world-class sauvignon blanc.
2003 Robert-Denogent Macon Fuisse Taches ($24.11): Super-duper chardonnay from Burgundy, France, from 24-year-old vineyards with clay and chalk soil. It is very flowery -- pua kenikeni, gardenia -- with a lively fruitiness of pineapple, cooked lemon and a well-integrated vanillin lace.
Carina Viognier ($17.99): Finding quality examples of viognier that are affordable is not easy. Most in this price range are out of balance, hot or overly oaked. Viognier's beauty is in its perfumey fragrance, exotic fruit in a full-bodied white wine. Carina's is about the finest example I've found recently that shows the true essence of viognier while remaining affordable. Made by winemaker Joey Tensley in Paso Robles, Calif.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org