Summer is here and with it, the need for a supply of summer whites. With people stopping by on the spur of the moment, invitations to impromptu picnics and such, having a bottle or two on hand won't be enough. This is the time to lay in a case or two and relax: no last-minute running to the wine store.
And how nice is it to have a choice of chilled whites to open on a sunny day? They come in all guises, from crisp and dry to fruity and aromatic on through the pleasures of off-dry Riesling or sweet Muscat. Here are some winning whites to try. And if you can't find these particular ones at your local shop or by looking on www.wine-searcher.com, be brave. Ask advice, and try some whites outside your usual comfort zone
2012 Varner "Foxglove" Chardonnay (Central Coast)
Who could use a nice, unoaked Chardonnay from the Central Coast? I could. And I suspect you could, too. Lean and crisp, the 2012 Varner Foxglove Chardonnay is great with food and an outstanding value for the price. Enjoy it with grilled oysters, that shrimp you just threw on the barbie, or some grilled salmon. About $13.
2012 Inama Soave Classico (Veneto, Italy)
A summer basic that will see you through any occasion. Inama Soave Classico is a beautiful package, but is much more than just another pretty white. Scented with honey and apricots, it has ripe round fruit and an underlying minerality that gives this classic Soave some heft.
2012 Keber Collio Bianco (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
A blend of Tocai Friulano, Malvasia Istriana and Ribolla Gialla, Edi Keber's Collio Bianco is opulent and perfumed, with enough bright citrusy notes to support the ripe luscious fruit. A polished wine, one to savor over the course of an evening. From $24 to $28.
2013 Storm "Santa Ynez Valley" Sauvignon Blanc (Santa Barbara County)
Ernst Storm's Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Ynez Valley is classic, with a scent of fresh-cut grass and lime. The fruit is clean and ripe, a bit tropical, but crisp and high-toned. In short, a perfect summer wine. From $20 to $23.
2012 Alois Lageder "Dolomiti" Pinot Bianco (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)
A Pinot Bianco from South Tyrol's brilliant, almost 200-year-old wine estate Alois Lageder. The Pinot Bianco Dolomiti is always a great buy. The grapes are grown on cooler west-facing slopes and farmed bio-dynamically, giving a wine that is crisp and clean, with aromas of apples and delicate flowers. About $13.
2012 Doniene Bizkaiko Txakolina (Bizkaiko Txakolina, Spain)
Crisp and nervy, this Txakolina from the Spanish Basque country has more depth than most and a welcome minerality. Scented with Key lime and jasmine, it ends on a slight bitter note, just enough to make you want to take another sip. A serious wine. From $18 to $22.
2013 Tendu California "White Wine" (California)
The big 1-liter bottle is closed with a white cap like a soda pop. A terrific little white wine from one of California's most interesting winemakers, Steve Matthiesson. His day job? Vineyard manager, which is why he's got a certain talent in sourcing fruit all over California for this dry, cool-toned white. With its notes of grapefruit and citrus rind, Tendu white wine is a lot of wine for the money. About $20.
2012 Louis Michel & Fils Chablis Premier Cru "Forets" (Burgundy, France)
In this northern reach of Burgundy, Chardonnay takes on an entirely different character. A good Chablis, such as this premier cru "Forets" from Domaine Louis Michel, is characteristically lean and chiseled, yet has a breathtaking complexity. And always, underneath everything, a strong minerality. Notes of honey and lemon lead in the 2012, but there's so much that happens from one sip to the next. About $40.