Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. We're sharing some of the best we've tried in the last month so that you can seek them out and bring them to dinner this month. We don't often feature an all-white-wine lineup, but the wall of heat that hit us after stepping off our airplanes from Sweden to Washington, DC last week has us thinking of something refreshing. This highly (and we mean highly) diverse lineup of whites from around the world (and we mean around the world) will keep almost every combination of tastes happy as summer hits the northern hemisphere this month. Cheers!
2015 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris (Oregon, USA)
Why we chose it: Pinot Gris is a white wine that has grown on me over the period of years, but is above all else intended to be fresh and well suited to spring and summer months. This particular wine delighted our senses, producing honeydew and cantaloupe notes in the nose as if we were slicing into a piece of fresh fruit. Layer citrus zest, some faint minerality, and… oh… the floral notes of jasmine and gardenia along with what (yes, I swear) was a bit of new soccer ball and you've suddenly poured something that is fun to talk about! You'll find some lemon and lime sprightliness in the front of the palate, with nice citric acid in the mid-palate that will cut nicely through a medium body pasta, a bit of green apple in the back, and lots of lovely floral notes from nose to finish. Delightful!
What to look for: Ask for it at your wine shop. If they can't get it, ask them for a quality Oregon Pinot Gris in the $20 - $25 range instead. They will be able to find you one of those. If they can't, find a new wine shop (exception for wine shops not in the United States, to which we will give some leeway). Happily, WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris is also available online at the winemaker's website.
2015 Cave de Pomérols Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul-de-Pinet Hugues Beaulieu (Languedoc, France)
Why we chose it: This white wine made from the Piquepoul grape in France's Languedoc region has made repeat appearances in our glasses for ten years. The 2015 edition is cool and crisp with a hint of nectarine in the nose. Lush and round, it's possessed of minimal tartness or wood, but a pleasant creaminess that makes it a versatile bottle to pour for white wine drinkers of different tastes. Apple and pear on the palate remind us of a summer fruit salad. It's a truly great choice for casual warm weather drinking.
What to look for: We selected this wine because it has become so ubiquitous (at least on shelves in the mid-Atlantic United States) that it seemed a good recommendation due to its "findability". If you're local wine shop doesn't have it on the shelf, they can probably find it.
2011 Man O' War Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (Waiheke Island, New Zealand)
Why we chose it: We've loved the Man O' War wines since we were introduced to them several years ago by our good friend Sonja, former wine director at a Washington, DC-area restaurant who has actually since moved to New Zealand. This wine is produced on small Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf along the more northern reaches of New Zealand's North Island. Our initial whiff was of wet hay, which evolved with a little air into freshly cut grass after a spring rain, with a bit of complimentary flint and melon notes to add texture. There a little grass in the palate -- as you'd expect -- particularly in the mid palate, but it's moderated by lemon and lime citrus notes in the front, as well as some slate-based minerality that could trick you into thinking you were drinking a Riesling. Something makes us want to pair this with olive oil grilled chicken, some mango chutney and goat cheese, and a simple arugula salad. Great for summertime!
What to look for: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is easy to find. Sauvignon Blanc from the small Waiheke Island, less so. If stymied on the latter, go for the former.
2015 Vingården i Klagshamn Inkognito (Skåne, Sweden)
Why we chose it: Our first taste of wine from Sweden's Klagshamn winery was over a stupendous dinner at a restaurant called Swedish Taste near the waterfront in Göteborg (Gothenburg), the country's second largest city. We believe Sweden to be the world's northernmost winemaking region. Klagshamn's lineup of white and rosé is the spiritual cousin of those from other cooler climate regions such as the South Coast of Massachusetts. The Inkognito itself took home silver at the International Wine Challenge in 2017, so we were pleased to see that our newfound appreciation for wine from this largely unknown wine region is shared by others. Pineapple, apricot, and the ever slightest essence of sweet frosting like what you'd find atop a cinnamon bun (we really mean slight… this is not a dessert wne by any stretch) leap from the nose in what feels like high notes on a piano. The palate carries on those pineapple and apricot notes alongside those of yellow apple and a little bit of cream.
What to look for: We'd wager that eager seekers in most of the world's wine shops will find this wine nearly impossible to find, though we'll try to triangulate that for our forthcoming review of Klagshamn's entire lineup. For now we offer this as a recommendation to locals and a first exposure to a really interesting region.
NV Nasty Woman Pave the Way Chardonnay (Oregon, USA)
Why we chose it: The Inaugural "Pave the Way" Chardonnay had a distinct nose of preserved lemon, green apple, and fresh pretzel bread. Sidenote: if you don’t know what preserved lemon is (one member of the trio did not, and his name wasn’t Meghan or Kathleen…) then you should definitely look into that because it is delicious in recipes. It is not the same thing as lemon preserves! In keeping with the nose, there was granny smith apple on the palette with a little buttery brioche on the finish. This Chardonnay was balanced and not overly buttery, so it was easy to drink. In general, Chardonnay – especially West Coast Chardonnay is not our favorite, but we can appreciate when one is good. If you do like Chardonnay, and you’re looking for a good bottle in the $30 range, we would definitely recommend this!
What to look for: You can order Nasty Woman Wine online. Check it out. They are also working hard to get this new wine into distribution channels and retail shops around the United States, so ask for it at your local shop, and suggest they bring it in to try.