Fine wines to greet the heat

Now that sunny weather seems close at hand, I've had quite a few requests to suggest some fine wines for consuming in warm temperatures. Here's the lineup:

Barbadillo Palomino Fino — Most of us know of the delicious red wines from Spain, but its white wines are quite good as well. It has taken the Spanish many years to establish the great reds — most of them tempranillo-based — on the shelves of the American marketplace. Today we see them seemingly everywhere, in fine-dining establishments, in supermarkets and in well-stocked wine shops.

Though we may not think of Spain as being a white-wine-producing country, the fact is it produces very fine whites at great prices. Barbadillo produces this white wine from the superb palomino grape, which gives it a dry, topical backbone while finishing well with thirst-quenching acidity. This wine is perfect with light fare, salads and shellfish of any type. A bargain at $15.

  • Westrey Pinot Gris, 2008 — I think this wine from the Willamette Valley is superb in every way. I love the acidity, which cuts through cuisine effortlessly, as well as the weight on the palate, which for a gris is not only rich but lasts seemingly forever. The wine has a distinct hint of apple and pear in the bouquet and is very clean throughout the taste sensations. A very good bottle of wine for about $20.
  • Stangeland Pinot Gris 2008, from the Eola-Amity Hills area — This is another charmer from the Willamette Valley, offering wonderful, lush tones and a hint of tropical fruit in the nose as well as on the palate. This wine, like the Westrey, offers a good dryness throughout the palate and also has a finish that is long and elegant, something magical in a well-made gris. We had this wine with grilled halibut and lemon slices and it was just the thing. As with the Westery, about $20 and well worth the money.
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards' Pinot Noir Rosé 2008 — This 2008 from Turner is simply one of the best of the rosés around for $15. I am a big fan of dry rose' wines and this little sweetheart is one of the best from the state. I am also a fan of rosé wines with a little age on them, and I think this '08 is quite beautiful in every respect. Dry, with a hint of raspberry in the nose, this clean little rosé offers quite a punch for the buck.

So many rosés are weak-kneed pinks with little acidity, some residual sugar and little or no staying power on the palate, but this wine is very firm, tight and palate-cleansing and is a joy to drink on every level. We had this wine with pork chops and it was superb and fresh. One of the tricks with a good rosé is to see how well it does when not really cold but simply cool on the palate. Many rosé wines, when they get less than ice cold, lose their firmness and seem sweet on the palate. This wine holds its tight, thirst-quenching abilities as well as its freshness throughout the meal, regardless of how warm it gets. I like this rosé very much and I think it might be the first rosé from this venerable winery.

Ferrand Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, France — The traditional blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon are married beautifully in this fresh and lovely white from Bordeaux. These wines are a tradition in Bordeaux whites and Ferrand makes one of the nicest releases I know of. This white wine is full of dry mineral tones, dry hint of grapefruit and lemon and a wonderful bouquet of pear in the nose. Served chilled, this wine will go with a variety of light cuisine, including seafood salad, Indian and Thai cuisine and just about any vegetarian cuisine. This is a wonderful offering at $15 per bottle and will grace any table with class.

Lorn Razzano is owner of the Wine Cellar in Ashland. Reach him at

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