Wines are generally not on the list of summer thirst-quenchers, but this refreshing Italian white from Tuscany seems like the perfect porch sipper.
Pinot grigio – the Italian name for the grape the French call pinot gris – is best served young and fresh. That means winemakers use soft pressing and cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks to preserve the crisp, zesty character. Enjoy this wine as an aperitif or with a light meal.
Italian pinot grigio sales are still strong, but it has lost some market share to cheaper California labels. Pinot grigio acreage in California continues to grow.
Sherry: “Dry grapefruit, lemon and lime flavors with a mineral finish.” 2-1/2 stars
Chris: “Lemon, melon and grapefruit with tangy acidity.” 3 stars Available locally for about $7.
J. Lohr, named after founder and still active operator Jerry Lohr, was one of the first to plant grapes in the Paso Robles region of California in 1986. Today, the winery has more than 2,000 acres of vineyards that were sourced for this wine.
Los Osos contains 78 percent merlot — just above the legal definition of 75 percent to be called a single varietal — along with 17 percent malbec, 4 percent zinfandel and 1 percent petit verdot.
The grapes are fermented in stainless steel, and the wine is barrel-aged for a year. It has an intriguing spice bouquet, displays lots of dark fruit and berry flavors, and has very soft tannins.
Sherry: “Smooth black cherry, with a hint of cocoa and a little coconut.” 3-1/2 stars
Chris: “Flavors of raspberry, cherry and a cocoa finish.” 3-1/2 stars
We’ve always enjoyed the fruit-forward style of the red blend offered by this California winemaker, so we were intrigued by what the white blend would bring. We were certainly surprised.
Apothic says it was inspired by the “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe. Perhaps there’s a little alchemy involved in this latest release, because it’s the first time we’ve ever experienced a white wine with a chocolate taste.
The wine is made from a blend of chardonnay, riesling and moscato and is layered in sweet tropical fruit and honey. The winemaker says it also tastes like vanilla, but we both perceived chocolate.
Sherry: “A strange but delightful combination of pineapple, honey and milk chocolate with a light touch of cherry.” 3-1/2 stars
Chris: “Flavors of pineapple and peach with a milk chocolate finish.” 3 stars