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:

Winery Vintage   Wine Region Street Price  Country   Varietal
San Benedatto 2011 Lugana Veneto/Lombardy $15.00 Italy Trebbiano
Antonio Sanguineti 2011 Vermentino Tuscany $13.00 Italy Vermentino
Taburno 2011 Falanghina Campania $17.00 Italy Falanghina
De Falco Vini 2010 Falanghina Beneventano Campania $14.00 Italy Falanghina
Dog Point 2011 Sauvignon Blanc  Marlborough $17.00 NZ Sauvignon Blanc
Dashwood 2011 Sauvignon Blanc  Marlborough $18.00 NZ Sauvignon Blanc
Laurent Kraft 2010 Vouvray  Loire Valley $18.00 France Chenin Blanc
Domaine D’Orfeuilles 2010 Vouvray  Loire Valley $19.00 France Chenin Blanc
HERMANN MOSER 2010 Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Kremstal Karmeliterberg Wachau $15.00 Austria Grüner Veltliner
Pewsey Vale 2011 Reisling Eden Valley $18.00 Australia Reisling
Alvarez de Toledo 2011 Bierzo Godello Bierzo $11.00 Spain Godello
ROBERTO ANSELMI 2010 Veneto White San Vincenzo $13.00 Italy Garganega
LUSCO DO MIÑO 2011  Albariño Rias Baixas Zios Miño River district of Condado do Tea. $15.00 Spain  Albariño
TORA BAY 2011 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard Martinborough $15.00 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
LA ZERBA 2010 Gavi Piedmonte $17.00 Italy Cortese
SIMONNET-FEBVRE 2009 Chablis Burgundy $18.00 France Chardonnay
ADELSHEIM 2010 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley $18.00 USA Pinot Gris
Spy Valley 2011 Sauvignon Blanc  Marlborough $19.00 NZ Sauvignon Blanc
Kim Crawford 2011 Sauvignon Blanc  Marlborough $18.00 NZ Sauvignon Blanc
Fantinel 2010 Friulano Collio Vigneti Sant’Helena Friuli/Venezia-Giulia $20.00 Italy Sauvignonasse (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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