The Wine Blog

Old World Whites: Send the Summer Out In Style

September 23, 2013

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No bones about it – despite the 70+ degree temperatures in the Boston area, there is a definite autumnal crispness in the air. We are already thinking cozy sweater, longer nights, apple picking and leaf peeping. It’s time to send summer out in style with some of our favorite old world whites. The same way that the kids need to go back to school to expand their minds, us wine drinkers need to go back to the old world to expand our palates. Not sure where to start? Check our handy dandy guide below:

Summertime Sipper: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Autumnal Alternative: Sancerre from the Loire Valley

Vinesrootlessns70279e3fcfa6Yes, we know that you love that sassy Sauv Blanc with all that grapefruit, tropically luscious body and cat pee (Yeah f’real that’s the real term). However, that bad-ass kiwi has a classy cousin from the Loire. Her name is Sancerre and she is a beauty: full on the palate yet possessing fresh, and almost translucently sheer flavors of lemon, herbal spice and gunflint. It may seem reserved up front but that savage smoky note from the regions Silex soils give it some edge.

Summertime Sipper: Moscato

Autumnal Alternative: Mosel Riesling

Screen_Shot_2013_09_23_at_11.25.28_AMc44154Everyone adores Moscato, with its semi-sweet peach flavor and delightfully bubbly texture. It is as fun and frivolous as the summer itself. But it’s time to put that baby to bed. As our days get shorter and cooler, our thoughts turn to one of the coldest of wine regions and it’s signature grape: Riesling from the Mosel. This wine has all the sweet, fresh fruit on the palate that a Moscato lover could want, but with a far more refined, complex mineral driven profile, and a high toned acidity to provide balance. Plus that occasional petillance (the spritzy fun little bubbles that can sometimes appear in this wine), provides just enough sparkle to get yourself back onto the still stuff.

Summertime Sipper: California Chardonnay

Autumnal AlternativeWhite Rioja or White Burgundy

Screen_Shot_2013_09_23_at_12.12.30_PM16526dYes, we know that you loved your New World Chardonnays this season – with your clambakes, steamers with drawn butter, and of course, lobster. Although both oaked and unoaked styles have the weight to get through the winter, let’s dial back the flavor a notch and turn to the progenitors that made this style what it is. Chardonnay arguably reaches its apogee in Burgundy, where it runs the gamut from bright and crisp Chablis, through the toasty, hazelnutty goodness of Mersault, down to the full and fleshy expressions of the Macon. Whatever style of Chard, you love , there is a killer counterpart that can be found here. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Try a White Rioja! Reasonably priced, and super approachable, these wines can also run the gamut from light and crisp, to rich and profound depending upon if and when they see oak.

Summertime Sipper: Pinot Grigio

Autumnal Alternative: Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Screen_Shot_2013_09_23_at_12.16.49_PMc22d12535b43Ah, Pinot Grigio, the perpetual summertime quaff: smooth, easy, ubiquitous and *sigh* predictable. By the end of the summer it’s probably gotten a little boring. As the trees starting turning over their leaves, shouldn’t you? It’s time to challenge yourself with a rush of minerals, crisp citrus and a tiny bitter bite on the finish.  Vernaccia di San Gimignano hails from Tuscany, a region far more renowned for it’s reds than it’s whites. But this baby more than holds its own in the complexity department.

Summertime Sipper: Torrontes

Autumnal Alternative: Gewurtztraminer 

Argentine Torrontes has been our drink of choice this summer, especially in 90 plus Screen_Shot_2013_09_23_at_12.11.26_PMdegree weather. Why? The heat intensifies the smells of nature around us: flowers, grass, everything smells more strongly in the summertime. We love how this aromatic beauty captures that in the glass: with it’s intoxicatingly perfumed aromas. yet it still manages to be crisp and clean on the palate.  Looking for a similar experience as the temperatures decrease? Check out Alsatian Gewurtztraminer. It offers the same exotic, hedonistic pleasure, but with a more autumnal profile: sandalwood and roses join lychee nuts and ginger. The texture is equally decadent, full and luscious on the palate, with a silky acidity  to balance out the occasional residual sugar.

That about covers our favorites. So what are you waiting for? Go! Go now and slake that thirst.

Amy_Ulllman_e1374835166279Writer Amy Ullman is the irrationally exuberant founder of Wine for Rookies. She received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Harvard University in 2009 with concentrations in Economics and French. She holds the title of Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, and is currently working on her Diploma of Wine and Spirits via the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.