5 American White Wines for July 4

5 American White Wines for July 4 – July 4 cookouts are mean lots of good food, friends, and alcohol...and many people enjoy a nice glass of white wine. However, finding one that fits a BBQ atmosphere can be difficult. These wines are good options for all levels of wine drinkers. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

5 American White Wines for July 4 – July 4 cookouts are mean lots of good food, friends, and alcohol…and many people enjoy a nice glass of white wine. However, finding one that fits a BBQ atmosphere can be difficult. These wines are good options for all levels of wine drinkers. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Earlier this week, I posted some suggestions for American sparkling and rosé wines to open over this upcoming holiday weekend. Today is all about the white wine options, as white wine and warm summer weather were practically made for each other. I will apologize upfront to the Chardonnay lovers for not having one on the list. I normally would have at least one, but these other wines were really the ones that were striking my fancy for the Fourth of July. And with that, 5 white wine suggestions of your cookout:

2014 Lilly's Viognier from The Winery at Bull Run– This $29 bottle of white wine from Virginia is a little pricey, but it’s beautiful. It’s the type of wine that’s meant to be sipped slowly with friends on a hot summer day. Rating: 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Lilly’s Viognier from The Winery at Bull Run

The 2014 Lilly’s Viognier (winery) is a beautiful white wine from Virginia. It’s a light lemon color with a bright floral nose. In the mouth, thee are apricots and white pepper mixed with hints of grapefruit and honeysuckle. Considering my iffy feelings about Viognier, I was surprised how much I loved this wine. At first I thought it might have been because I tasted it during a visit to the winery, but I bought a bottle that I opened at home and enjoyed it as much, if not more, than I did during my winery visit. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and purchased it for $29.

Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc - This $8 white wine from California is not a complex wine, but it’s easy to drink and has a great quality-price ratio. If you’re having a lot of people over, this is a wine people will be happy to drink…especially outside on a hot summer day. Rating: 3.5 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc

The Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc (website) is a white wine from California. This wine is like drinking summer in a glass. It’s light and full of honeydew melons, nectarines, and limes. It’s not a complex wine, but it’s easy to drink and has a great quality-price ratio. If you’re having a lot of people over, this is a white that people will be happy to drink…especially outside on a hot summer day. I gave this wine 3.5 corks and received it as a sample, but the SRP is $8.

2014 Chateau St. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling – At $20, this white wine from Washington state would be the perfect wine for a summer salad, cold chicken, or just to sip on with good friends and conversation. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2014 Chateau St. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling

The 2014 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling (winery)is a white wine from Washington state that has a touch of sweetness, nice acidity, and is incredibly drinkable. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe peaches and apricots mixed with honey and a hint of ginger. It’s refreshing and will pair nicely with the summer salads and cold fried chicken, or can be enjoyed all on it’s own. I gave this wine 4 Corks and purchased it for $20.

This $13 bottle of white wine from Idaho is full of tropical and stone fruits mixed with Lemonheads candy, honey, and flowers. The touch of sweetness mixed with the acidity should make it a nice pairing with the ham, lamb, or turkey. Rating 4 out of 5. Cheers! | AGlassAfterWork.com

Sawtooth Riesling

The Sawtooth Reisling (winery, amazon) is one of my summer house white wines. It’s full of tropical and stone fruits mixed with Lemonheads candy, honey, and flowers. There’s also a hint of ginger. The touch of sweetness mixed with the acidity should make it a nice pairing with hot dogs and steamed crabs. A sign that I’m live fairly close to the Chesapeake is I find there are few things as enjoyable as pairing this wine with something that has been seasoned with Old Bay. I gave it 4 corks and usually purchase it for about $13.

Bouchaine Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris - This $30 white wine from Napa California is a little pricey for an everyday wine or a large gathering, but is a perfect palate-pleaser for a more intimate gathering. It’s an enjoyable sipper that is worth the extra cost. Rating: 4 out of 5 | AGlassAfterWork.com

2012 Bouchaine Vineyards Estate Pinot Gris

The Bouchaine Vineyards Pinot Gris (winery) is a light-to-medium bodied white wine from Napa, California. The wine has a nice lime, grapefruit, and tart Granny Smith apple characteristics that mix with hints of nectarines and thyme. It’s a little pricey for a large gathering, but if you’re doing something a little more intimate, this Pinot Gris is sure to be a guest-pleaser. I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $30.

Question of the Day:  What’s your favorite white wine for a cookout or picnic?

A Great Gewürz

VAWine Month 25th AnniversaryOctober is Virginia Wine Month, and while I’m not planning to only drink Virginia wines this month (like I did back in 2010), I do want to give my adopted home state a little love for the wonderful things that are being done with wine.  When I moved here in 1999, most of the wines were of questionable quality.  To be honest, I only drank them when I would head to the wineries with my girlfriends, and those adventures were more about escaping DC for the day then they were about being excited to drink Virginia wine. That is no longer the case.  In fact, with Virginia winemakers focusing more on grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Viognier, the state has developed such fabulous wine legs that many of the wines can go toe-to-toe with more well-known wine states like Oregon and Washington.

2012 Afton Mountain Gewürztraminer

2012 Afton Mountain Gewürztraminer

That all said, instead of going with the better known Virginia grapes to kick of Virginia Wine Month, I opened up one of my favorite Virginia whites–the Afton Mountain Vineyards Gewürztraminer.  Not to worry, though, I have some Cab Franc (both a red and a rose) and Petit Verdot to review during the month.  However, the heat wave in DC and Hubby’s spicy dinner menu was too perfect a setup for me to pass on the Afton Mountain Gewürz.

The 2012 Afton Mountain Vineyards Gewürztraminer (winery) is from outside of Charlottesville in Afton, Virginia and is made with 100% Gewürztraminer.  The wine is a pale greenish yellow with small bubbles that cling to the side of the glass.  On the nose, there was honey, white flowers, and hints of orange zest, banana, and pineapple.  In the mouth, there was orange zest, banana, pineapple and hints of lime, ginger, and honey.  The wine was a light-to-medium body with bright acidity and a hint of effervescence.

Afton Mountain Vineyard CorkIs this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed.  At $19, this wine is local (for me, anyway), affordable, and delicious.  It’s a food-friendly wine that is particularly good with Hubby’s turkey curry vindaloo and spicy cauliflower because the touch of sweetness helps to control the spice, but the acidity and effervescence keeps both the food and wine flavors fresh during the meal.  Admittedly, it’s also a wine that has me going back for seconds (or thirds) after dinner because it’s very pleasant on the palate and easy to drink.

Question of the Day:  Can you purchase Virginia wine where you live?  Have you ever tried one?  If so, which one and what did you think of it?  

Price: $19
Purchased at Afton Mountain Vineyards
Overall: 4 Corks

Top 5 American Red Wines for July 4th

If you live on the East Coast, particularly in the mid-Atlantic, you’re probably still recovering from the record-breaking temperatures and the crazy storms.  We were fortunate enough to not lose our electicity because our condo building has a generator, but everything around us was without power.  That, combined with street lights that were out, trees down in the middle of the road, and the general sense that people were unprepared, definitely made for a chaotic weekend.

The plus side to all of it, though, is that there are “two Fridays” during this four-day workweek, not to mention a fun federal holiday in-between.  I’ve heard some coworkers gripe about the Fourth of July being on a Wednesday, but really, I think there’s nothing like breaking up the week with a good party.  With that in mind, here are 5 American red wines that would be perfect for a July 4th BBQ or cookout.

2007 Birdies for the Brave Merlot

The Williamsburg Winery Birdies for the Brave Merlot  was full of strawberries and pomegranates, along with a hint of a smoky, woodiness.  It was a medium-bodied wine with light tannins, so it would be light red wine option on a hot summer day.  Additionally, the PGA Tour and players have joined with various corporate sponsors, including Williamsburg Winery, to raise money through Birdies for the Brave.  They donate money to groups that provide critical programs and services to meet the specialized needs of wounded warriors and military families, and the proceeds of this wine helps support those efforts.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $18.

2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 cc: Cabernet Sauvignon

The cc: Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) had dark fruits mixed with smoke and black better that gave the wine a nice complexity.  It had big tannins and a medium-to-full body, so it had nice heft without being too heavy for enjoying outside.  I gave the wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $24.

2008 Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge

2008 Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge

The Michel-Schlumberger Maison Rouge (winery) is a medium-bodied wine full of red fruit characteristics with a touch of earthiness and thyme mixed in to give it an interesting, slightly different taste.  It’s a wine that should probably breathe a little bit, or at least go through an aerator, but once it opens up, it will be a nice red to enjoy in the hot July 4th weather while watching fireworks with friends.  I gave this wine 4 corks and purchased it for $25.

2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard

2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard

The 2008 Ottimino Rancho Bello Vineyard Zinfandel (winery) is a wine full blueberries, black cherries, pomegranates, and raspberries that are mixed with cooking spices like cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and white pepper.  It’s a bigger wine that will really come to life when paired with a traditional BBQ sandwich, ribs, or even a hot dog on a bun.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks, and while I received it as a sample, the suggested retail price is $30.

2008 Treana

2008 Treana

The Treana (winery) is full of blackberries, plums, and pine needles, with some smoked beefiness and cedar.  It’s a perfect wine to pair with BBQ and cookout meats, as its full body and medium-to-high tannins can stand up to their powerful flavors.  Admittedly, it’s probably a little on the high end for a cookout wine, but it’s a wonderful sipping wine with a lingering finish that makes it a great choice if you’re only going to enjoy a glass or two.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $35.

Tomorrow I will post a list of Top 5 American Whites and Sparkling wines.  In the meantime, though, if these wines aren’t what you’re looking for, check out my 2011 list of Top American Wines Under $20 for July 4th.

Wine Bloggers’ Conference: An Evening of Virginia Wine at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

As I mentioned in my Wine Bloggers’ Conference: Recap & Recovery post, one of the highlights of WBC11 was Friday evening’s Virginia wine reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  The temperature was over 100 degrees with ridiculously high humidity, so it wasn’t the ideal environment for wine tasting.  However, the bloggers that braved the weather were rewarded with wine from more than 30 of the Commonwealth’s vineyards at the home of America’s “first distinguished viticulturist.”  It was definitely a memorable experience.

Shelby and I headed to the event together.  When we arrived at Monticello, we hustled off our non-air-conditioned bus, followed the crowd around the side of the house, and were greeted by some friendly folks handing us a glass of white wine to start the reception off right.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what we were handed, but it was a good start to the night.

Me at MonticelloGlasses in hand, Shelby and I posed for some photo opportunities before heading under the tent to start our wine tasting.  We decided early on to stick with white wines, since it was just too hot to enjoy the reds.

Shelby & Me tasting wine at Thomas Jefferson's MonticelloAs we were finishing up our first wine, the welcome ceremonies started.  To be honest, most of what was said we’d heard before, so there isn’t too much to report.  On topic that did get a lot of attention, though, was that Viognier has been designated as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s signature grape.  And there certainly were a lot of Virginia Viogniers to taste.  Unfortunately, it is definitely not one of my favorite grapes.

I also think it was a sign of how important the conference was to the Commonwealth and how much support the Governor has for the growing VA wine industry that Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd Haymore, welcomed the 2011 WBC attendees to Virginia.

Once the speeches were over, Shelby and I went back to tasting wines.  All in all, I think we tasted about 7 wines before grabbing some food and going for a tour of Monticello.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures inside the house, but there was little question that Jefferson was a wine lover.

My favorite detail in the house was the wine bottle dumbwaiter on the side of the fireplace that went all the way down to the wine cellar.  This would allow Jefferson’s slaves to take bottles from the wine cellar, put them in the dumbwaiter, and have the bottles arrive up in the main house without the slave having to walk outside and through the house.  While I don’t have a picture of it, Shelby has a great picture of the dumbwaiter in the wine cellar.

The cellar was extensive, particularly for the time, and even on the hot and humid July evening that we were at Monticello, the cellar was a fairly comfortable.  All in all, it was interesting to see how another wine lover took care of his bottles.  I admit, I’m envious of TJ’s cellar.

As for the Virginia wines that we tasted, here’s what I thought:

2010 Tarara Winery Viognier (SRP $15, winery, @TararaWinery)
My fav Viognier of the night.  It had nice floral characteristics…mostly honeysuckle…combined with ginger and peaches.  It had a medium body and good acidity.  Would have loved to try this wine with some sharp cheddar, as that’s my favorite way to drink Viognier.
3.5 corks

Catoctin Creek Winery Vidal Blanc (SRP $15, winery)
Pears and honeydew melon.  A touch of sweetness, but good acidity to balance it out.  Great patio wine…food friendly.  REALLY nice.
3.5 corks

2010 Annefield Vineyard Viognier (SRP $22, winery, @AnnefieldWine)
Honeysuckle, honeydew melon, and yellow grapefruits with a touch of apricots.  Good body and acidity.
3 corks

2010 Blenheim Vineyards Viognier (SRP $19, winery)
Honeysuckle, apricots, and pineapples.  Lingering finish, good acidity, but leaves me wanting something a little more.
3 corks

Fabbioli Cellars Something White (SRP $16, winery, @FabbioliWines)
This blend of Traminette and Vidal Blanc grapes is slightly sweet.  Very floral—mostly white flowers—with hints of Asian pear.  Definitely a summer picnic wine.
3 corks

2010 Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $28, winery)
Tropical fruits…honeydew melon and pineapple with a touch of grassiness.  If I were tasting the wine blind, though, I’m not sure I would have guessed this was a Sauv Blanc.
2.5 corks

2010 Potomac Point Winery Richland Reserve Viognier (SRP $17, winery, @PotomacPoint)
Honeysuckle, apricots, and mangos.
Perfumey…both because of flavor and because of the alcohol.
2.5 corks

Question of the Day: What do you think of wines made from Viognier?  If you’re a fan, do you have an recommendations (they don’t have to be Virginia Viogniers)?

WBC11: White & Rosé Wine Speed Dating…I Mean Speed Tasting

The big joke at the Wine Bloggers’ Conferences is to describe the live blogging wine tasting event as “speed dating” with wine.  Each conference attendee sits at a table, and everyone at each table will taste 20 wines over an hour period.  During that hour, a wine representative (usually the winemaker) has 5 minutes to talk about their wine, while conference attendees ask questions, taste the wine, and take notes before the representative moves on to the next table and a new representative comes arrives to start the process all over again.

White Wine Speed Tasting Kick-off.

White Wine Speed Tasting Kick-off.

The comparison to speed dating is perfect because 5 minutes is just enough time for a quick introduction and a little flirting before being able to make a decision as to whether or not there was enough interest for a follow-up.  At the same time, just like in speed dating, that 5 minutes isn’t enough time to learn everything or to really get a detailed impression.  That all said, I do hope that there is at least one major difference between speed dating and speed tasting—that most people aren’t tweeting during their speed dates!

I really enjoyed the speed tasting.   Unlike the WBC09, this year, the tastings were split into a white speed tasting and a red speed tasting, which meant that there weren’t any reds following whites.  This was definitely a welcome change.  I have to admit, though, that I was overall unimpressed with the white wine speed tasting.  There weren’t any major duds, but none of the white wines blew me away either.  I felt like I spent the hour tasting a lot of average or slightly above average wines, all of which I might have picked up from the store and experimented with myself.  It was a little disappointing.

2009 Decibel Sauvignon Blanc

2009 Decibel Sauvignon Blanc

2009 Decibel Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $16, winery)
Wine from New Zealand
Tart, flavorful, and creamy…not what I’ve come to expect from a NZ Sauv Blanc, but absolutely gorgeous.  For the price, this is definitely a wine to be on the lookout for.
4 corks

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs (SRP $20, winery, @GloriaFerrer)
Wine from California
Nice light salmon color and good bubbles.  Berries and limes with hint of white pepper and bright acidity.
4 corks

Shindig White

Shindig White

Shindig White (SRP $16, winery, @Vino50Wines)
Wine from New York
This Vidal Blanc-Riesling blend is “The ultimate sushi wine.”  It has a lime-like acid and stone fruits…really nice.
4 corks

2010 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc Reserve

2010 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc Reserve

2010 Veritas Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (SRP $25, winery, @VeritasWinery)
Hints of cucumbers and green peppers give crisp, clean feel. Citrusy…mostly grapefruits and limes.
4 corks

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay

2008 Rodney Strong Reserve Chardonnay (SRP $40, winery, @RSVineyards)
Wine from California
Peaches, hazelnut, and cream on the nose. Peaches & cream mixed with wet stone and apricots in the mouth.  Smooth, but a little hot.  Nice, but I wouldn’t pay $40 for it.
4 corks

2009 King Estate Domain Pinot Gris

2009 King Estate Domain Pinot Gris

2009 King Estate Domain Pinot Gris (SRP $25, winery, @KingEstate)
Wine from Oregon
Certified organic
Subtle, good acid, nice balance.  Granny smith apples & Asian pears with a touch of peaches and cream.
3.5 corks

2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc

2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc

2010 Barren Ridge Vidal Blanc (SRP $15, winery, @BarrenRidge)
Wine from Virginia
Almost clear in color.  Super ripe yellow peaches on the nose, but nice peach and pear balance in the mouth.
3.5 corks

2010 Rappahannock Cellars Vigonier

2010 Rappahannock Cellars Vigonier

2010 Rappahannock Cellars Vigonier (SRP $23, winery, @RCellars)
Wine from Virginia
Ginger, stone fruits, pineapple…YUM!  Surprisingly high alcohol content (14.5%, but good balance)
3.5 corks

2010 Artesa Chardonnay

2010 Artesa Chardonnay

2010 Artesa Chardonnay (SRP$15, winery, @Clubartesa)
Wine from California
Spicy.  Baked pears and coconut.  This wine is very velvety and has a medium body.
3 corks

2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée

2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée

2008 Afton Mountain Vineyards Tête de Cuvée (SRP $30, winery, @AftonMountain)
Wine from Virginia
Carmel, crème brûlée, vanilla, citrus, and a little burbony thing going on.  Enjoyable, but a little pricey.
3 corks

2009 Viviana Superiore Cuvée

2009 Viviana Superiore Cuvée

2009 Viviana Superiore Cuvée (SRP $22, winery, @LlanoWine)
Wine from Texas
My first wine from Texas…ever!  The wine is sweeter on the nose than in the mouth.  Nose smells like sugar, ripe stone, and tropical fruits.  Mouth is a little more tart and balanced…pineapple and peaches.
3 corks

2009 Festival Rose Bordeaux blend

2009 Festival Rose Bordeaux blend

2009 Festival Rose Bordeaux blend (SRP $13, winery)
Wine from France
Smells funky…like wet forest and mushrooms.  Tastes bit bitter, like under ripe strawberries, oranges, mushrooms, and a bit of creaminess. Just eh.
2.5 Corks

Question of the Day: What’s the most unusual regional wine you’ve tasted?