The summer season is upon us, which means letting big red wines rest in the cellar while white and rose wines gently chill in the refrigerator. If your cellar is empty, here are nine wines to try this summer, including many priced at $15 or less. They're good for drinking with a light dinner, partying on the patio or beach, or just relaxing with friends. There are sauvignon blancs from three continents, roses from opposite hemispheres, a luscious northern Italian pinot grigio, a vibrant vinho verde from Portugal and more.
2010 Girard Sauvignon Blanc
Napa Valley, California
Following the traditional styles of the Loire Valley rather than that of more expressive New Zealand wines, Girard created an elegant sauvignon blanc without losing the grape's New World brightness. The clean result is due to winemaking techniques, such as not exposing the wine to oak, that respect the character of the sauvignon blanc fruit. Native yeasts and stainless steel fermentation highlight its unique personality. Minerality is present but it takes a back seat to honeysuckle, fresh thyme and lemon, among the more traditional sauvignon blanc characteristics of honeydew melon, pineapple, peach, green apple and grapefruit. Drink it as an aperitif or with raw oysters, flaky white fish, creamy soups and tuna salad. Buy it at: The Wine Seller, Dorignac's and Habano's of Slidell. Drink it at: Herbsaint, Mr. B's and The Sazerac at the Roosevelt Hotel.
2010 Castell de Raimat Albarino
Costers del Segre, Catalonia, Spain
Raimat, a nearly century-old winery in the southeastern corner of Spain, is both a pioneer in vineyard and winemaking techniques and an innovator of the Costers del Segre area's growth. Raimat also holds the largest single wine estate in Europe. In the glass, this Albarino offers aromas of white peach, citrus and floral notes. On the palate, taste a light spritz, forward lemony flavors, a terrific acidity and a pleasing minerality. Drink it with white meats, seafood, paella, risotto and pasta dishes. Buy it at: Whole Foods Markets, Swirl Wines, Cork & Bottle and Dorignac's.
2011 Chateau Lamargue Les Grandes Cabanes Rose
Costieres de Nimes, France
This dry, refreshing and elegant wine was produced in the Costieres de Nimes, the southernmost appellation in the Rhone, an area with abundant sunshine and a long grape-growing season. This well-balanced blend of half syrah and half grenache takes full advantage of the region's growing season. Grenache brings the strawberry qualities to the wine and the syrah offers blackberry notes. The wine also features brash acidity, refreshing minerality and a lengthy finish. Don't overchill the wine or you will miss its nuances. Drink it with smoked salmon, salad Nicoise, pork chops and grilled sausages. Buy it at: The Wine Seller and Cork & Bottle. Drink it at: Galatoire's, Cochon, Bayona, Iris and Cafe NOMA.
2011 Nimbus Sauvignon Blanc
Casablanca Valley, Chile
From a single vineyard in the Casablanca Valley, this 100 percent sauvignon blanc is a lively summer refresher. Established in the 1980s, this cool, coastal region has proved excellent for the cultivation and vinification of white grapes. The essential characteristics of sauvignon blanc are all in this wine, including aromas of tropical fruit, green apples and citrus notes. A pleasant minerality provides a beautiful backdrop for the aromatics and flavors of melon, peach and lemon and lime zest. Drink it with artichokes, salads, grilled vegetables, Asian cuisines and roasted Marcona almonds. Buy it at: Rouses in Mid-City and Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket. Drink it at: Ralph's on the Park, Atchafalaya, Rene Bistrot, Hoshun Restaurant, Original Pierre Maspero's and Chartres House Cafe.
2011 Anjos de Portugal Vinho Verde
Vinho verde wines are produced in a sub-region of the same name in northwestern Portugal. These uncomplicated, simply made wines are some of the lightest in the world. By law, the alcohol content is limited to 11.5 percent. Many of the wines, made from indigenous Portuguese grapes, are very young with a slight frizzante, a refreshing mouthfeel. In the glass, these crisp, acidic whites feature bright aromas of wildflowers, pear and apple followed by flavors of tangy grapefruit, lemon and green melon. Pair it with tapas, sushi and shellfish. Buy it at: Martin Wine Cellar, Swirl Wines, W.I.N.O. and Bacchanal. Drink it at: Galvez Restaurant, Rene Bistrot and W.I.N.O.
2011 Fabre Montmayou Rose
A French negociant who saw the potential for Argentine winemaking, particularly with Malbec, founded the Fabre Montmayou estate in the early 1990s. With vineyards at 3,800 feet and all hand-harvested, estate-grown fruit, the winery produces this malbec-merlot blend in Argentina's southernmost winegrowing area. In the glass, the wine exudes aromas of cherry, peach, strawberry, floral notes and a bit of earth. On the palate, the wine presents a creamy fruit character with strong flavors of berry, stone fruit, orange zest and good acidity. Drink it with grilled tuna, shrimp, chicken, salads, vegetarian dishes and soft cheeses. Buy it at: Swirl Wines and Bacchanal.
2010 Barone Fini Pinot Grigio
Val d'adige, Italy
Situated between the Dolomites and Alps, the valley of Val d'Adige is an excellent home for the pinot grigio grape, which loves the sunshine and the winds from the south at sunrise and the cool northern breeze at sunset. Pinot grigio has excellent natural citrus flavors, and fruit sugars are enhanced through careful vinification. It also has a strong minerality. Drink it with shellfish, bruschetta, pasta dishes and other light fare. Buy it at: Cork & Bottle, Vieux Carre Wine & Spirits, Dorignac's, Whole Foods Market in Metairie and Albertson's in Mandeville. Drink it at: Marigny Brasserie, Jacques-Imo's, Meauxbar Bistro and Ristorante del Porto.
Domaine Plouzeau Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Touraine, Loire, France
The Loire Valley offers a distinct sauvignon blanc character. The vineyards around the city of Tours in the Touraine, along the River Cher, yield wines of understated elegance with aromas of fresh-cut grass and white peach, citrus flavors and stone fruit qualities. The acids are pronounced and long finishes are typical. Domaine Plouzeau takes advantage of the mineral-laden soils and brings the purity of organic winemaking to the fore. Drink it with fish, shellfish, oysters, fresh vegetables and lemony sauces like hollandaise and bearnaise. Buy it at: The Wine Seller and Bacchanal. Drink it at: Luke, Bayona, Commander's Palace, Ste. Marie and Ignatius.
NV Huber Hugo Rose Sparkling
For 10 generations, the Huber family has delighted Austrian wine lovers with excellent blends made from grapes in the Traisental region, just west of Vienna. Markus Huber, a former professional soccer player, now carries the tradition. This combination of zweigelt, the most widely grown grape in Austria, and boldly acidic pinot noir, is converted into a sparkling wine of excellent structure. The red grapes arrive on the palate as equal partners, bearing flavors of ruby grapefruit, rose petals, fresh cherry, spices, forest berries and citrus. Drink it with pate, chicken, turkey and seafood dishes. Buy it at: Swirl Wines and Bacchanal. Drink it at: Mike's on the Avenue and Toups' Meatery.
Any questions? Email Brenda Maitland at firstname.lastname@example.org.