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're celebrating our last gasp of the high summer season with a lineup of five bottles that gush refreshing (two rosé and three white), a worthy followup to our all-white June lineup and our red, white, blue, sparkling, and rosé July lineup. Cheers!
2016 Txomin Etxaniz Getaria (Getariako Txakolina, Spain)
Why we chose it: I leapt at the chance to try this rosé from the Getariako Txakolina DO in Spain's northern Basque region. Almost sparkling in its effervescence, like a subtle Vinho Verde, this wine offered really substantive legs in the glass and a sweet nose of cherry juice reminiscent of jolly rancher candy. A bit of Granny Smith apple followed on a palate that ended with very notes juicy strawberry. Truly pleasurable to drink with dinner outside at the height of summer.
What to look for: You will not find Basque wine of any kind -- to say nothing a rosé in particular -- on every store shelf and restaurant menu. Don't shy away from asking your wine merchant to special order you a bottle. Otherwise, for a similar feel, try a much easier-to-find Vinho Verde from Portugal. The refreshing qualities will shine through.
2014 Apaltagua Carménère Gran Verano (Central Valley, Chile)
Why we chose it: The Apaltagua is unique in that it's a rosé made from Chile's signature Carménère grape. We'd been saving it for an occasion to share with someone we believed would truly appreciate it. It's extraordinarily pale, looking in the glass at least as much like a white as it does a rosé. Mineral defines a nose in which there is only a bit of green apple (reminiscent of some Sauvignon Blanc) among otherwise imperceptible fruit notes, but the wine tastes completely different than it smells. The plate is more floral, a bit like a Viognier, though there is a bit more apple and orange citrus towards the slightly sweet finish.
What to look for: This is another bottle you won't find on every shelf, but it's worth seeking out both a Chilean Carménère (name of the grape) in its typical red, as well as the rosé. We also think it worth your while to locate rosé variants of other big red varietals.
2013 Potomac Point Vineyard & Winery Viognier Richland Reserve (Virginia, USA)
Why we chose it: Richland Reserve Viognier from Virginia's Potomac Point Winery has been a staple of our warm weather lineup in years past, and this 2013 edition did not disappoint. It is, we believe, in its drinking prime right now (June 2017). Actually we were pleasantly surprised, for we thought perhaps we had missed the window when we found this bottle recently. The nose is very dry, with the sensation of lush green grass on a rainy day, with a hint of hay, and juicy green apple. A little oak and butter greet us on the palate, but more so a mix of green and floral notes (particularly at the tip and back of the tongue), apricot, and perfumes. We love Virginia Viognier, of which this continues to be one of our favorite renditions.
What to look for: Virginia makes some of the world's best Viognier, and Potomac Point is a perennial leader in that category. You'll more easily find the same grape from other regions (unless you live in Virginia or near Washington, DC), but if given the choice looking for a Virginia alternative, generally lean towards Old World (France, in this case), rather than the American west.
2015 Roland Tissier Sancerre (Sancerre, Loire Valley, France)
Why we chose it: A dinner party gift from thoughtful friends, this Sancerre from tossed a clean nose of lemon-lime, lemon grass, green apple, and freshly cut spring lawn before giving way to a palate that tasted rather different than what we'd expected. Generally crisp, though quite creamy in the middle, we loved how smooth this wine was throughout, and how fresh it felt to the very last drop. Consider this as a great pairing with shellfish.
What to look for: Because the French label their wines by region -- not grape -- keep in mind that a wine from Sancerre (the region) is a Sauvignon Blanc (the white grape). Focus your search in Sancerre, and you'll not have any issues. Do not try to substitute a Sauv Blanc from elsewhere in the world.
2013 DeSante Proof (Napa Valley, California, USA)
Why we chose it: Proof is a pricier ($59) white blend from Napa, whose components are all aged together in a single barrel. Only twenty-two cases were produced. The nose is heavily oaked and lightly buttered, cut with grassiness, lemon grass in particular. The alcohol burns a bit in the front. Powerful floral notes intermingle with honey to convey the qualities of a Viognier, while aggressive tartness intermingles with some grapefruit in the back.
What to look for: This is a very characteristic upper-double-digit-price white blend from Napa. There weren't many cases made, so you might have to take the advice of an alternative based on what your local wine shop carries. They will have something.