Warmth is finally peeking out from underneath the underbelly of winter, escaping to where people wear shorts and sandals. When the mercury rises to this level, it’s difficult to slurp red wine, so I recommend these five inexpensive white and sparkling wines that should quench the thirst tugging at your tongue.
Read more: Five refreshing white wines for spring and summer
Located southeast of Sacramento near California’s eastern edge, Lodi Valley isn’t romantic, sophisticated wine “country” (yet), but it’s got the hip enviro edge. Lodi is so serious about the health of its land, growers there formed a trade group, Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission (LWWC), which in 1992 laid down its environmental imperatives in a farming manifesto, “Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing.” Thus the 181 Merlot was produced from grapes exposed to less pesticides.
Read more: Wine review: 181 2008 Merlot Lodi Valley (California)
In new world regions like South Africa, Chenin Blanc transforms. They often call this white grape “Steen” in South Africa. And the Mulderbosch Chenin was mistaken for a White Burgundy at a recent blind tasting… embarrassing all the certified sommeliers in attendance.
Read more: Wine review: Mulderbosch 2008 Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Hess Collection is more known for its rich and extracted red wines (especially Cabs), but they a make mean white. The Allomi Vineyard sits at the base of Howell Mountain in a remote area of Napa Valley, spending its days in tourist-free peace. It’s an enviable spot. Can you say secret, trespassing picnic?
Read more: Wine review: Hess 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Allomi Vineyard Napa
The Clif Family — yes, the same people who make the cand…er… “nutrition” bars — started making wine in 2004 after moving to Napa Valley. Like their bars, they source from sustainably and organically-grown vineyards (link) in northern California. Winemakers Sarah Gott and Bruce Regalia do an outstanding job with all the Clif wines, especially whites like this one.
Read more: Wine review: The Climber 2009 Sauvignon Blanc California
There are days when blind wine tastings (link) slap my ass and call me Sally. Like when a stereotypically derided wine brand like Glen Ellen actually represents well in the glass. It’s not a tempting bottle to reach for from the samples rack on a random weeknight, so blind was the *only* way to assess it without prejudice.
Read more: Wine review: Glen Ellen 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietor’s Reserve California
Bogle Vineyards, a third generation, family-owned and -operated winery, owns 1,500 acres and isn’t beholden to a bank. That’s how they can sell high quality wine at a low price. That, and they’ve been making Petite Sirah a long time.
Read more: Wine review: Bogle 2008 Petite Sirah California
Huh? A Pinot Noir from Argentina? Not exactly what they’re known for… Malbec, yes. Pinot, not so much. But I apparently was impressed with Trapiche Pinot with their 2004 vintage as well, so they’re consistently tasty.
Read more: Affordable wine review: Trapiche 2009 Pinot Noir Mendoza
It’s probably a smart idea for the producers of these wines not to tout that the grapes hail from Greece. Although this region pretty much invented wine, Greece hasn’t exactly sustained a stellar reputation in recent years. But maybe Elios can break that cycle.
Read more: Affordable wine reviews: Elios Mediterranean Red and White
Besides Segura Viudas Cava, this little $10 number is a favorite in the “cheap” sparkling wine category. Widely available too.
Read more: Sparkling wine review: Cristalino Brut Cava