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White Hot Nights

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Summer has officially arrived and that means longer days, later nights and a lot of icy-cold white wine. Whether you’re out on a first date, planning your future on a fortuitous fifth date, or cozying up with a long-time lover, there is a great big world of white wine out there.

Clean bright whites are the best beginning of the end of a hot summer day. From icy cool mountain-grown grapes with high-altitude freshness to sunny fruit-packed refreshers, the choices can be overwhelming. The good news? You don’t have to commit. At least not right away…

Caldaro Alto Bianco is a blend of famed varieties from the region of Trentino Alto-Adige and includes Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Kerner, and Gewürztraminer.  With its Alpine qualities of extreme crispness, it is the ultimate refreshment. The indigenous variety Ribolla Gialla hails from Friuli; it calls to mind a steel-cut citrus salad. Le Vigne di Zamo’ Ribolla Gialla is a perfect example.  Sancerre is home to the world’s most elegant Sauvignon Blancs, which are generally cleaner with more mineral notes than lime and lemongrass. A. Mellot Sancerre La Moussière is a unique take on the regional style. Half steel fermented in an open container and half fermented in new oak barrique, this wine is bright, full and interesting. In stark contrast, try a more tropical take on Sauvignon, blended with Moscatel from Kosher Spanish producer Elvi. NESS! It is full of super fruity aromatics.

Sometimes you need something stable, something (or someone) who helps you feel connected. Mineral-rich and earthy white wines have to them (be it a slate or steel quality) a nutty undertone and so much personality you could swear they’d been aged in wooden barrel with years of history on them. Clotilde Davenne Bourgogne Blanc is so rich and textured, it almost has an oaked quality to it. But this Chardonnay from Burgundy is purely steel-aged. There are plenty of bright, citrusy top notes to balance out the mineral base. Give this wine some time after opening for the most balanced experience. Pietro Pilandro Lugana is made from the Italian indigenous grape Trebbiano di Soave in the region surrounding Lake Garda. Clay soil and lake deposits give this crisp white a powerful finish that characteristically recalls bitter almonds. Verdicchio Castello di Jesi Podium is another great example of an earthy white wine with so much more personality than expected. It’s made from Verdicchio, an indigionous grape from Marche, and starts light and bright. On the palate it moves like honey with round woody notes and a lot of minerality. No wood, just great soil and one of Italy’s most unique grapes. Kosher winery Segal’s makes a Galilee Chardonnay aged in American and French oak barrels. It exhibits a wholesome bouquet of butterscotch and cashews with a complex palate to match.

Some wines have the ability to transport you directly to the seaside, or a sunbaked coastal countryside. These are the seducers. They inspire heat and refreshment at the same time and wash away inhibitions like a sea spray leaving you plenty to…talk about.

Sicilian wines are known for their elements of dried fruit (apricots, peaches) and sparkling citrus notes of lemon and lime.  Seemingly sweet, the nose deceives, and these wines deliver a balanced palate with medium acidity and a pleasant sea-salty aftertaste. Indiginous varieties like Grillo and Inzolia are great on their own and also blend wonderfully with international varieties like Chardonnay and Viognier. Try Castel Venus Grillo, Barone Villa Grande Etna Bianco Superiore, Arianna Occhipinti SP68 IGT Sicilia Bianco, and Donna Fugata Polena.

Wines from Italian volcanic and coastal region Campania are also extremely aromatic and have a smoky edge. There’s an intrinsic heat to them, something dark and mysterious, yet cloaked in bright florals.  Imagine the dark lady whose perfume hits you before she even enters the room. Her presence is at once ominous and alluring. Campania wines are fascinating for this quality that has the ability to invoke fields of dried wild flowers and the simmering undercurrents of an active volcano. Try Vini della Sibilla Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei DOC, San Francesco Costa d’Amalfi Tramonti, and Marisa Cuomo Costa d’Amalfi Ravello.

Annie Shapero is the Founder/CEO of DiVino wine events planning and wine consulting, currently operating in New York City.
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