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The Walls' 2015 Martin's Gold Chardonnay from the Yakima Valley AVA. (Image: The Walls)

Summer means white wine! Here are the ones you should be drinking

As we’re officially into the summer solstice and warm weather days line up in succession, our thoughts for wine veer away from heavier red wines, to those with a refreshing bent that line up with casual porch sipping, cookouts, or a laidback and carefree joie de vivre. We’re ready to dive into white wine for the season. Here are some local favorites that fit the bill

Chardonnay

Arguably the most popular wine in America, Chardonnay is ubiquitous and unrelenting in its place on wine lists and store shelves. But within Chardonnay are a host of styles and pricepoints. There are the buttery and oaky Chardonnay bottles that draw scorn by wine snobs yet quaffed wholeheartedly by Baby Boomers or the Real Housewives set. But on the other side of the coin are Chardonnays that show restraint with oak and drink light, crisp, with hints of minerality; these are the Chardonnays that you should seek out and try. Take for instance the Unoaked Chardonnay by Yakima’s Gilbert Cellars. Lean and bracing with acidity, this clean and fresh wine would be at home with seafood, greens, and Vietnamese food as its profile pairs well with more flavors than something that has been hit with so much oak. Another Chardonnay to keep an eye out for is Walla Walla’s The Walls. They were a hit when I tasted a few of their releases at last year’s Taste Washington, and this year is no exception. Telling specific tasting stories from their vineyards, these Chardonnays are another example of the quality bar set by Washington white wine.

Grüner Veltliner

If you’re not familiar with Grüner Veltliner, you should get acquainted with this varietal with the quickness. Most often produced in Austria, Washington vineyards and winemakers are starting to dip their toe into making this bright, spicy, and savory white wine. Able to match with the most persnickety of foods, asparagus and artichokes, Grüner Veltliner is perfect for those days where vegetables from the farmers market and produce are bursting with flavor. If you're looking for a fun and unconventional wine to have with oysters, grab some Grüner. Locally, the Grüner Veltliner from W.T. Vintners is a great example of what this wine is capable of in Washington. Jeff Lindsay-Thorson’s suite of wines at W.T. are all food-friendly and his Grüner is no exception. You can also head out to W.T. Vintners Woodinville tasting room to try out their Grüner.

Riesling

If you’re a wine nerd, you’ve been beating the drum of Riesling for years. If you’re not, you most likely haven’t ventured into the world of Riesling, but you really should. Found in a whole host of styles from dry to sweet, Riesling has a wide net of flavors and sweetness. Two Washington Rieslings should be in your cellar or brought out for your summer grill party. The first is the Riesling from Savage Grace that is a must try. Off-dry from a touch of residual sugar, it’s loaded with citrus flavors and delight. For food pairings, Riesling matches with a wide array of dishes, and would be welcomed with Thai food, grilled halibut, and grilled pork chops. Plan a visit to Savage Grace's Woodinville tasting room to try their wines. While you're in Woodinville, another Riesling to try is Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Dry Riesling. Available for under $10, it’s one of the best-selling wines in the country and with good reason. Bright with acidity, but a touch of sugar, often associated with this wine, to balance out the flavor notes. Delightfully drinkable and a killer value to boot.

Sparkling Wine

If sparkling wine is what quenches your thirst, you’re in luck as there are a few wineries in Washington that bring the bubbly to the party. Treveri Cellars in Yakima is at the forefront for Washington sparkling wine and deservedly so. Balanced, bright, and celebratory, their sparkling wines are made in the traditional ‘methode champenoise’ and widely available around the Seattle-area. Domaine Ste. Michelle is another place to pick up some sparkling wine from Washington wineries and a visit to the Chateau Ste Michelle grounds in Woodinville would make for a fresh start to a day of wine tasting.

There you have it. A handful of white wines to add to your rotation this summer. Bright, fresh, and fun. Cheers to sunsets, tan lines, and food and wine always within reach.

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