I’ve been tasting so many notable wines lately that I thought I’d depart from my usual format and tell you, in brief, about some of my favorites whites and rosés. What unites these wines is that they are all slightly off the beaten path, from albariño to viognier and quite a few in between.
You won’t find a chardonnay or a cabernet sauvignon on the list, although there are, of course, times and places to enjoy those familiar varieties. It’s just that for right now, I’m concentrating on lighter wines that are interesting but also easy to drink during casual summer dining.
Two American whites are a good way to begin, both from Charles Smith Wines in Washington state.
- The 2008 “Kung Fu Girl” Columbia Valley riesling is notable beyond the name and is a repeat favorite at $12. It’s lovely and light with peach, lime and minerals and just a touch of sweetness. Serve it as an aperitif or with spicy Indian and Asian foods.
- Also from Charles Smith, the 2008 K Vintners viognier from the Yakima Valley, $20, is zesty and complex with lingering notes of melon, apricot, lemon-lime and a touch of ginger. It’s a great match for grilled chicken and pork. More information on both wines is at the K Vintners Web site.
From Spain, a white Rioja stands out, as do two whites from the albariño grape grown in the Rías Baixes area of Galicia in the northwest.
- The 2008 albariño from Martín Códax, $15, is another repeat favorite with tropical fruit aromas and lemon and apple notes. (Imported by Martín Códax USA, Hayward, Calif.)
- Bodegas Terras Gauda’s 2008 Abadía de San Campio albariño is lemony with touches of almond, herbs and white pepper. $20. (AV Imports, Baltimore, Md.) Both are great choices for appetizers as well as fish and shellfish dishes.
- El Coto’s 2008 Rioja Blanco, made from the viura grape, is a true bargain at $10 and is elegant with notes of pear, lemon and a hint of strawberry. It will match well with a variety of lighter foods. (Frederick Wildman and Sons, New York.)
I’ve already written about plenty of rosés this summer, but two more are worthy of mention.
- From California, the 2008 rosé from Quivira Vineyards in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is one of the season’s best. It’s light and delicious with raspberry, a touch of pink grapefruit and a nice tangy finish. Made from two red Rhone varieties, it’s a blend of 88 percent grenache and 12 percent mourvèdre. It’s also an excellent value at $15. Enjoy it with salmon, chicken, light pastas and on its own.
- From the Cafayate Valley of Argentina, Michel Torino’s 2008 rosé, $14, is made from malbec, the country’s signature red variety. Deep in color and relatively full bodied, it nonetheless has a good acidic bite that makes it refreshing, with cassis, violets and some minerals on the finish. We enjoyed it with a tarragon chicken salad with celery and green peppers.
With the exception of the viognier, they are made without oak. All these wines will make for great companions to your summer picnics and light dinners. And at $10 to $20, they are also are great values.
Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at