The summer months are for grillin’ and chillin’, but it’s also for more casual and lighter dining – salads, tapas, and fish make up a lot of our summertime menus.  Our drinks also tend to be lighter and more casual.  We have plenty of white wines, all under $20, in the chiller.
Here’s our go-to list for this summer – we have tasted all of these wines, and most should be easy to get at your local store, or on line:

WineryVintage  WineRegionStreet Price Country  Varietal
San Benedatto2011LuganaVeneto/Lombardy$15.00ItalyTrebbiano
Antonio Sanguineti2011VermentinoTuscany$13.00ItalyVermentino
De Falco Vini2010Falanghina BeneventanoCampania$14.00ItalyFalanghina
Dog Point2011Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough$17.00NZSauvignon Blanc
Dashwood2011Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough$18.00NZSauvignon Blanc
Laurent Kraft2010Vouvray Loire Valley$18.00FranceChenin Blanc
Domaine D’Orfeuilles2010Vouvray Loire Valley$19.00FranceChenin Blanc
HERMANN MOSER2010Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Kremstal KarmeliterbergWachau$15.00AustriaGrüner Veltliner
Pewsey Vale2011ReislingEden Valley$18.00AustraliaReisling
Alvarez de Toledo2011Bierzo GodelloBierzo$11.00SpainGodello
ROBERTO ANSELMI2010Veneto WhiteSan Vincenzo$13.00ItalyGarganega
LUSCO DO MIÑO2011 Albariño Rias Baixas ZiosMiño River district of Condado do Tea.$15.00Spain Albariño
TORA BAY 20112011Sauvignon Blanc Single VineyardMartinborough$15.00New ZealandSauvignon Blanc
LA ZERBA2010GaviPiedmonte$17.00ItalyCortese
ADELSHEIM2010Pinot GrisWillamette Valley$18.00USAPinot Gris
Spy Valley2011Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough$19.00NZSauvignon Blanc
Kim Crawford2011Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough$18.00NZSauvignon Blanc
Fantinel2010Friulano Collio Vigneti Sant’HelenaFriuli/Venezia-Giulia$20.00ItalySauvignonasse (related to Sauvignon Blanc)

We’re ranking our top 10, starting with our personal favorites, but they all would get between 85-90 on the typical 100 point scale.  Here’s the detail:

1. We must start with Lugana from San Benedetto (2011), which we recently reviewed.  It is pale lemon-green in color, and has wonderful notes of peach, citrus, a Lugana-San-Benedettohint of honey, and herbs, which are beautifully accompanied by a crisp acidity and supple body on the palate.  At $15, stock up on this one if you find it.  A second choice for Lugana that we recently tasted was from the Provenza estate, running at about $20.

2. We have been tasting many vermintino wines from both Sardinia (the native land of this grape) and Tuscany. The palate is rich, slightly sweet, with pineapples, Sanguinetiapricots, and sweet pear flavors.  It has a nice finish, with some aromatic spice and a bit of green pepper with the Sardinian versions. Our favorite vermintino is Vitianofrom Antonio Sanguineti (Tuscany), which is about $13.  It is from a small producer, so it might be a bit harder to find.   You can also try Costamolino (Sardinia), Colle Solato (a Grechetto/Vermentino combination from Umbria), Poggioargentiera (Maremma region of Tuscany), and Poggio al Tesoro Solosole (Bolgheri region of Tuscany).  We also recently had a very good bottle of Vitiano from Umbria, which is a blend of verdicchio and vermintino – at $10, this was an outstanding bargain.

3. Falanghina has become a very popular varietial recently at restaurants, maybe because of its hard to pronounce name – but we discoveredfalanghina Taburnothis gem about 10 years ago, and it is one of our summertime staples.  Our favorite for a long time has been from a producer in the Campania region called Taburno. At $17, this is truly a SeriousWino great bargain wine.  Try also De Falco Vini which is even less expensive at $14, and has interesting melon flavors besides the typical stone fruit and honeysuckle tastes.  Check out our previous posting on falanghina for more selections.

4. Summer and New Zealand sauvignon blanc – a perfect pairing.  The NZ sauvignon blanc wines tend towards flavors of grapefruit, pineapple, and exotic fruits (papaya, mango, star fruit, etc.).  However, a number of producers have been moving towards a more austere version, similar to Sancerre.  In our estimation, this is a mistake – its the exotic flavors that make the New Zealand wines very distinctive.  You’ll always be able to find Kim Crawford, which is very consistent.  But our favorite is Dog Point, with its lemon/lime tones, exotic melon after taste, and bright acidity  that wins the day.  It is a bit more expensive – about $19 – but worth the price.  A fantastic food wine.
5. Staying in New Zealand, we have to mention another note-worthy sauvignon blanc from Dashwood.  This wine can typically be found for $18, and is light-bodied, with vivid passion fruit, lime and fresh herb and cut grass notes.  It is also a great food wine.
6. Laurent Kraft Vouvray from Loire Valley France – $18. This is tightly focused, but also a fun wine, offering ginger, persimmon, quinine and chamomile notes to lead the way, followed by pear and green fig flavors. Long, mineral-edged finish.  For another fun Vouvray, you can also try Domaine D’Orfeuilles – $19.
7. The gruner veltliners tend to be hard to find, but they are really fun wines, so try one if you see it.  Our all-time favorite, based on flavor and price, is Hermann Moser Grüner Veltliner.  This is a very lush white, with plenty of dried apricot overtones moving to fresh-cut apple and pear flavors, followed by mineral notes on the juicy finish.
8. We have to have a reisling on the list – many sommeliers call reisling the “universal” food wine.  We’ve used it with spicy Chinese food, Mexican food, and Indian food.  We like some American versions, as well as some of the New Zealand versions that are now appearing in the US.  The best we have found at a low price point is Pewsey Vale from Australian at $18 a bottle.  It is a vibrant, bracing and compelling wine that fools the palate with a bit of sweet, but is actually lower in sugar than the German versions. This white tastes from pear, pineapple and lime flavors and has a very persistant, impressively finish.
9. We came across the Alvarez de Toledo Bierzo Godello at a restaurant in Wilmington, DE.  We were able to source this wine for $11, so we quickly put it on our bargain list.  It has a fruity, honey and herbal aroma, and tastes from melon, nectarine, and honey.  It is smooth, light, and has good acidity to work with fried seafood.

10. Roberto Anselmi Veneto White San Vincenzo– Roberto Anselmi is one of the best Italian white wine producers – he keeps his yields low, and makes his wines with pain-staking detail.  Roberto Anselmi Veneto WhiteThe San Vincenzo is made from Garganega, which is the same grape used for Soave. It has a slight hint of smoke and straw mixed with mango and pineapple. It is a medium bodied wine, and has nice balance.  It is quite the bargain at $13.

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