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Refreshing white wines for summer drinking

Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio Mongris
courtesy photo

In the midst of the dog days of summer, you really don't want a rich, heavy, full bodied white wine that carries a lot baggage and just weighs your palate down. Something light, refreshing and palate cleansing is more the ticket. The following white wines certainly fit the bill:

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013 ($15): Kim Crawford is the poster child for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but Starborough is also a great contender and can often be found discounted. Citrus aromas and lime zest hit first with a bit of ruby red grapefruit as well as hints of lemon grass and ginger. It has a zesty palate entry with passion fruit, guava, mango, kiwi and grapefruit all in the mix. While a good level of acidity is present, it’s pleasantly soft, making it feel well rounded in the mouth. A crowd pleaser, this is a good aperitif wine or one to serve with the appetizer tray.

Carmel Road “Liberated” Riesling, Arroyo Seco 2012 ($16): Stone fruit, peach and nectarine on the nose from this Monterey County Riesling along with some spice and minerality. Peach skin, nectarine pit and sunny citrus flavors come through on the palate. It has a soft flavor entry and lands on the mid palate with of a hint of the St. Joseph baby aspirin or what seems like orange muscat as well. Not your typical German or California Riesling, somehow that softness translates to further upbeat acidity on the finish, which is more bright, sunny and refreshing than expected.

Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio Collio “Mongris” Friuli, Italy 2011 ($19): Pinot grigio has become so popular it’s almost a generic term for any Italian white wine, many of which are absolutely pedestrian. Marco Felluga’s grapes, however, come from rocky, hillside soil which limits the yields and concentrates the flavors. Citrusy lemon on the nose with florals, yellow apple and hints of savory green Italian herbs in the mix. More lemon and apple on the palate with lemon verbena and a certain minerality and chalkiness too. The herbs are a grace note: anise, basil and sage are the most prominent though there is a trace of ginger. It’s one of those wines that seem slight at first but then expands exponentially on the palate with each succeeding sip. It’s quite a rarity: a pinot grigio with substance.