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Posted: June 10, 2009

Three damn good whites, three damn good reasons

Make it your summertime mission to embrace your white-wine-ness

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

The most hate mail I’ve ever received arrived in the wake of a piece written a few years back, which eloquently and profoundly discussed some perfectly good uses for Chardonnay that you may not have considered – like whipping it up with some flour to create art paste or dousing sidewalk-crack weeds to permanently eradicate them.

(Actually, that’s a lie. The most hate mail came from some Boulder quilters whose umbrage over me wrong-naming some quilting designs caused a stroke or two — most notably mine — after spending a full half hour listening to voice mail beating my non-quilting self, appropriately and thoroughly, to shreds.)

Anyway, I’m turning over a new grape leaf this summer — and am hell-bent on getting some very good white wines into me and onto the “let’s drink” list because life is short and if not now, when?

We know most of the attributes of white wine (versus red), not the least of which is that white wine tastes good cold. And red wine cold? Not so much. A good temperature for white wines is 45 to 55 degrees. The coolness, the potential citrus and light buttery feel to many white wines all add up to characteristics perfect for a hot summer evening.

Furthermore, light “summertime” flavors and scents surround white wines: apple, pear, soil, buttery, citrus, melon, herbs and floral are all adjectives often used to describe white wines. It’s also easy, in a summertime way, the way a Chardonnay, a Pinot Blanc or a Sauvignon Blanc can and often is sipped as an aperitif to a full meal, then gracefully transferring well to the dinner table. 

Certain tenets apply to white wines as well: Whites call for a clear glass that is full near the bottom and narrows at top. Don’t over-chill the white because a lot of them tend to lose flavor when they’re too cold. Pairing them with summertime fare is an intuitive as much as cerebral one: Seafood, grilled vegetables, light poultry dishes and salads work with whites, though I honestly believe that if you like whatever it is you’re eating — a blue-cheese-infused buffalo burger, for example — and a white wine makes you enjoy the meal even more — pair away!

So here it goes: The experts below gave us Three Damn Good White Wines and Three Damn Good Reasons to drink them. I, for one, am going to pick up a few at the liquor store and make it my summertime mission to “embrace my white-wine-ness,” because it is, after all, all about growing and developing one’s character in this life, is it not?

And I haven’t had a good glass o’ wine yet today, so I’m in no mood for hate mail. Or quilters.

Three Damn Good Whites, Three Damn Good Reasons:

We asked a couple of local white experts to offer up three of their best white recommendations — and three good reasons to try them.

From Steve at City Wine:
Three white wines (to be honest, two white and one rosé):

Gruner Veltliner from Austria
The aroma says summer! Dry peach, apricot and a bit of garden flowers. On the palate, light clean and refreshing works with light summer fare. There are several on the market and they are all pretty good.

Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc (not California!)
Chalky, mineral, citrus, grapefruit. A great glass to start the evening.
Best buy: Domaine Salvard Cheverny

Susana Balboas Rosé of Malbec
Dark ruby color, made from what is fast becoming the new darling red grape, Malbec. To satisfy those red drinkers, goes with anything you put on the grill, especially Southwestern burgers.

From Brenda Francis, Certified Sommelier (who cheated and gave up four) (

Las Colinas del Ebro 2007 Garnacha Blanca, Terra Alta, Spain, $16
Like a prima ballerina, this old vine garnacha blanc is angular, with a precise, mineral snap. It then immediately spins into a beautiful dance of citrus, with flavors of oranges and limes. It offers an elegant, fetching mouth-feel. The mid-palate blooms with melon and white flowers. Beeming with flavors, the finish leaves an impression of cantaloupe and honey. It lingers on and on, as if to return to the stage for encore. A graceful and delightfully pretty expression of 100-year-old vines.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2005 Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Washington, $16
A creamy canvas shows flavors of honey, lime zest, peaches and a touch of lemongrass. The mid-palate swells with mouthwatering acidity. The finish offers a flirty mineral tone. About a quarter of this wine was aged in old oak barrels, the rest in stainless steel.

Bookcliff Vineyards Lucky #20 White, Colorado, $13

A blend of chardonnay, viognier, and muscat blanc. Beautiful mouth-feel, with a rich texture, while expressing a pronounced acidity. Flavors of melon, peach, pear, and ground spices fill the senses.The wine is bright and slightly yeasty. Creamy hints of tangerine peel linger on the finish. The perfect wine for spicy food. Try it with Mexican, Thai, Indian takeout or your favorite hot curry dish.

Hook & Ladder 2007 Gewurztraminer, Russian River Valley, California, $16

Intense ginger clings to the roof of the mouth. Orange flavors wash over the top and tip of the tongue, cooling with a sweet-and-sour sensation. Acidity makes the mouth water for several seconds. The finish offers wisps of peach blossom perfume and mineral petrol under a wild clover honey. This is the gewürztraminer you fell in love with.

One winning wine tasting: Wine & movie night

Balistreri Vineyards hosts “Under the Stars,” a wine and movie night, on Saturday, June 27. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. for wine and snacks, and the movie, (what else?) “Cinema Paradiso” (a wonderful film, by the way, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore), begins at 9 p.m.

Cost is $35 in advance and the vineyard is located at 1946 E. 66th Ave. in Denver. Note that the movie is in Italian and subtitled. For further information, call 303.287.5156 or email

Coming June 26: Israeli wine

In a country about the size of New Jersey, 130 wineries have sprung up — in Israel — since 2001. Sales of Israeli wines hit $140 million in 2007 and, according to the Israel Export Institute, wine exports topped $21 million in 2007, up 42 percent from the previous year.

How AND why Israel’s playing a good wine game now, especially since it’s wine making history dates back to biblical times, is a mystery we’ll explore on June 26.

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Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Ms. Beck's encyclopedic knowledge of wines is amazing! Thanks for another fun, and informative, article. I can now venture beyond "Menage a Trois" to some A-list chardonnays. By Pam Burrell on 2009 06 14

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