5 white wines for late summer sipping
As summer comes to a close, we’re taking every last opportunity to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather with a great glass of wine. For wine recommendations, we went right to our friends Hadley and TJ Douglas at The Urban Grape in Boston. The Urban Grape is the first store to develop The Progressive Scale, a unique system of organizing wine from light-bodied to full-bodied—rather than by varietal or region. Ranging on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lightest-bodied, The Progressive Scale not only makes it easy to pick the right bottle every time, it also helps demystify wine’s many regional, varietal, and production complexities. The numbers you see by the wines below correspond to their placement on The Progressive Scale.
2015 Machherndl "Kollmütz" Grüner Veltliner (Wachau, Austria) 4W, $20
Weingut Machherndl has been producing some of Austria’s tastiest wines since 1786, and is currently helmed by 8th generation owner Erich Machherndl. The goal of the winery is to produce wines in the tradition of yesteryear, employing an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. As a result, you can always count on the quality of these estate-grown grapes and the resulting wines—all of which are bottled from single-vineyard sites. This vintage has Grüner Veltliner’s typical spiciness and minerality, but surprises with bright, citrus yellow fruit and rich apple flavors. The easy-to-open screw cap makes this an easy summer sipper.
2015 Geoffrey Chevalier Mâcon-Fuissé (Macon-Cuisse, Burgundy) 5W, $22
Fifth-generation winemaker Geoffrey Chevalier tends to his organically-farmed vineyards as tenderly as possible, doing much of the work by hand and sometimes even employing a horse-pulled plow. His wines, fermented with indigenous yeasts, typify the beautiful terroir of Burgundy, without the shocking price tag that usually comes with the region. The Chardonnay is not oaked, but is aged in cement tanks on its own lees (dead yeast cells) which contributes to a naturally medium-bodied texture while maintaining the region’s signature minerality and bright acidity.
2015 Spiess Grüner Silvaner "Feinherb" (Rheinhessen, Germany) 5W, $17
Grüner Silvaner is a white wine varietal grown almost exclusively in Alsace and Germany, where the grape originated. Riesling may be the region’s best-known grape, but Silvaner is making a comeback, particularly in the Rheinhessen region, which seems particularly well-suited to growing the varietal. These wines, and this Spiess bottling in particular, are know for vibrant minerality. Think of this as a medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc alternative, with less aroma on the nose, but plenty of interest on the palate. Very well suited to end-of-summer meals and our last lazy days.
2016 Tyrrell's Wines Semillon (Hunter Valley, Australia) 6W, $26
Semillon, one of the most important white wine grapes in Bordeaux, has found a home in Australia, but it can be hard to find offerings from Hunter Valley in the States. This incredible bottling makes a strong case for seeking out these outstanding wines! Left on its lees to age, the Tyrrell’s Wines Semillon has lemon and floral notes on the nose, and a floral lemon curd palate that remains playful and bright, despite being medium-bodied. This is a rare state-side treat that will taste great with early-fall dishes.
2013 Qupé Marsanne (Santa Barbara County, CA) 8W, $26
What do you get when you grow the most fragrant and flavorful white Rhône varietals in sunny Santa Barbara County, California? A seriously delicious fuller-bodied white wine that will entice Chardonnay drinkers and Chardonnay-loathers alike. Despite being voluptuous, this wine shows crisp, vibrant acidity and stone-y minerality combined with a classic peach flavors. As an added perk, the grapes for this wine are grown biodynamically, using environmentally-friendly farming techniques said to positively enhance the wine’s flavor!
To learn more, be sure to check out The Urban Grape’s book: Drink Progressively: A Bold New Way to Pair Wine and Food from Spring House Press.