In Southern California summer tends to linger, bringing waves of heat that send you to the fridge for a crisp, refreshing white wine. Why not use that urge as an excuse to explore some alternative whites? Come on, you can't wear cashmere every day and you can't drink oaky Chardonnay day in and day out. Here are some whites made from other grapes I've been enjoying this summer, with a couple of leaner Chardonnays thrown in just because I like them.
Most of the wines are relatively easy to find at good wine shops. Others not so much, but worth the search.
To find out whether any of these wines are stocked in a shop near you, visit Wine Searcher.
Here we go:
A GREAT BUY
2012 Mason Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): This 100% Sauvignon Blanc comes from a single vineyard near Yountville. It has a wonderful minerality and presence. Crisp and smooth, the wine holds your interest, a changeling in the glass, cycling through flavors of citrus and melon. About $12.
2012 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina (Basque Country, Spain): A classic Basque white from a top producer. This Txakolina is stony, bone-dry, slightly pétillant — and scented with lime. From $18 to $22.
CRISP AND REFRESHING
2012 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett (Mösel, Germany): A wonderful Riesling from star vintner Ernie Loosen. Bright and fresh, with notes of tart apple and kumquat. Versatile and very food-friendly. From $14 to $20.
FROM A WHITE WINE MASTER
2011 Jermann Pinot Grigio (Friuli, Italy): An intense, elegant Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) from northeast Italy and one of Friuli's best winemakers, Silvio Jermann. From $20-$23.
A WELL-CRAFTED BARGAIN
2012 Patrick Piuze Petit Chablis (Burgundy, France): Lemony yellow and crisp, it is fermented with indigenous yeasts and shows off aromas of citrus, mostly lemon and grapefruit. Austere at first taste, it has a lovely texture and a finish that stays awhile. About $20.
2009 Brooks Riesling Willamette Valley (Oregon): Thrilling at any price, the 2009 Brooks Riesling shows the potential of Riesling in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Beautifully aromatic, this $18 Riesling is dry, not sweet, and exhibits balance and finesse. The grapes come from three sustainably farmed vineyards. About $18
WON'T BREAK THE BANK
2010 Domaine J.A. Ferret Pouilly-Fuissé (Burgundy, France): Enchanting white wine from the village of Fuissé in southern Burgundy and for this appellation, a relative bargain. Lovely, flowery nose, plus a refreshing acidity and minerality in balance with ripe fruit flavors. Classic Pouilly-Fuissé. From $28 to $30.
A GENTLE WHITE
2011 Cantina Frentana Cococciola Terre di Chieti (Abruzzo, Italy): A real wine geek choice, but one that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Made from an indigenous grape varietal, it has character and presence. It starts off crisp and dry, but then reveals flavors of quince and gentle spices. About $14.
GREAT WITH FOOD
2011 Mönchhof Riesling (Mösel, Germany): A lush, floral Riesling with some sweetness and a great affinity for food. A great buy for the price and a natural with Asian food. From an estate that goes back to 1804. From $12 to $16.
INTENSE AND FASCINATING
2011 Venus La Universal Dido "Macabeu I Garnatxa" Montsant (Montsant, Spain): A blend of Grenache and Macabeo from Sara Perez (Mas Martinet) and Rene Barbier (Clos Mogador). A rich, complex white that's intense and fascinating. Terrific with richly flavored foods. From $20 to $22.