The heat is already here, and summer isn't far behind. It's time to shift gears and re-think your home wine list. I'm thinking about cold-crisp whites, chilled bone-dry pink rosés and lightly-chilled soft reds. They are available locally, are a good quality per price ratio and less than $15. The good news is most of these wines are less than $10 and some less than $5. Get out your marker.
There are some great 2012 sauvignon blancs available for about $8. Geyser Peak (90 points) is always on my list, as is Cupcake and Starborough, both from New Zealand and $5 less than Kim Crawford Wines. If you're not a fan of gooseberries and grapefruit, then try the Dry Creek Vineyard fume blanc or the Kenwwod sauvignon blanc, both consistent California-style winners year after year. A dry chenin blanc goes down easy on a hot day. Two that I like are Pine Ridge and Dry Creek Vineyard. The Pine Ridge has a bigger mouth-feel due to the viognier blended in.
Both use grapes from the Clarksburg region.
I'm not a huge pinot grigio fan, but when it hits 100 degrees, a chilled pinot grigio is hard to turn down. On the high end, the Coppola Monterey pinot grigio is outstanding. On the low end, the Barefoot is very good. In between, I like the King Estate pinot gris and the 2012 Geyser Peak. All represent different price points. All are readily available and all are great values.
A lightly chilled pinot noir is the perfect summer red wine. But finding a decent pinot for less than $15 is not easy. Here are a few that I think are all good: The 2011 A by Acacia, the 2011 Kenwood Russian River, the 2011 Castle Rock Mendocino, the 2010 Cupcake Central Coast and the 2011 Estancia Monterey County. If you are a steak and cabernet fan, the 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle and the 2010 Lodi 337 are two easy drinking cabernet sauvignons. Red blends are very chic now and go well with just about anything off the grill. The Concannon Conservancy 2010 Crimson and Clover, the 2010 Gascon Colosal and the 2011 Bogle Vineyards Essential Red are all smooth blends and all in the $10 range. I suggest you chill your reds for about 25 minutes before serving. Yikes, I'm almost out of space. I'll give my rosé report in my next column.
I put together a blind wine tasting of white wines from Grocery Outlet. The eight tasters rated the Italian Amano pinot grigio and the Chilean Paso Grande sauvignon blanc as their favorites.
Both sell for $3.99. Besides the Three Rivers cabernet sauvignon ($9.99), I like the Fort Ross Sonoma Coast pinot noir ($12.99). I stumbled across an independent website that reviews Grocery Outlet wines. You can go to http://grossout wine.wordpress.com for interesting (not gross) comments and ratings from wine bloggers looking for good wine deals. Check it out. Cheers!