The Best White Wines for Summer 2017

For our latest round of National Retailer Wine Panel reviews, we asked panelists to rate white wines perfect for Summer 2017.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle. If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact managing editor Kyle Swartz at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or 203-855-8499 x225.

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Three Stars (91-86): An above-average wine, at a reasonable price point, which many customers will enjoy.

Five Star Wines

(96) J.Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2015 (California). Consistently one of the best examples of Monterey chardonnay. Winemaker Kristen Barnhisel puts a decidedly Burgundian spin on this rich, voluptuous wine. A very specific French barrel program, weekly stirring of the lees, Dijon 76 clone, and other classic techniques shine on the palate. Full-bodied and complex. Peach, vanilla and lemon dominate the nose. ($29.99)

(95) 2014 Comelli Friulano (Italy). From the D.O.C. Friuli Colli Orientali. Formerly called “Tocai,” this unique and lovely wine has aromas and flavors of melon, apricot and citrus with a lush honey-like texture. The lengthy finish has refreshing acidity and is not quite dry. ($26.99)

(95) Kimsey Ballard Canyon White Blend 2014 (California). This delightful blend of roussanne and viognier has gorgeous texture and richness. Classic white peach and citrus blossom notes are balanced by a surprisingly zesty acidity, making it perfect for those warm summer days and nights. ($60)

(95) 2014 Comelli Ampuis Pinot Grigio (Italy). In a world bombarded with merely acceptable pinot grigio, this one really stands out! From the I.G.T. Venezia Giulia, it has a rich, mouth-coating texture. There are some floral notes and hints of fresh fruit on the bouquet, followed by lively flavors of apple, under-ripe melon, and citrus. The finish is long, crisp and refreshingly dry. A simply wonderful style! ($21.99)

(95) 2015 Pierre Jean Sauvignon (France). 100% Sauvignon Blanc from France’s southwest and I.G.P. Cotes de Gascogne. It is classically French with lively aromas of wildflower, lemongrass, apple and pear with a nuance of flint. Delicious flavors of mandarin orange, peach, apple and pear lead to a crisp, long finish with racy acidity and more of that flinty terroir. This wine is an ideal aperitif or will complement most any light summer cuisine. It’s also an unbelievable value! ($9.99)

(94) Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2015 (California). AVV’s classic estate product. Very concentrated fruit from this vintage has a touch of viognier to add further richness and complexity. Night harvesting, whole cluster pressing, and a unique program of separate fermentation in stainless steel and French oak results in a beautifully blended and balanced wine. Floral, rich and creamy, with beautiful notes of pineapple, pear and apple. One of the best examples of the legendary Alexander Valley fruit. ($21.99)

(93) Bending Branch Winery Comfortage Hoover Valley Vineyard 2015 (Texas). This is one of the big guns form Bending Branch in the Texas Hill Country. 100% roussanne is sourced from the Hoover Valley vineyard, and is their “homage” to the Hermitage region in the Rhone Valley. Clean, crisp, with beautiful mouth feel and weight on the finish. 50/50 blending program utilizing stainless tank and oak barrel aging. A new Texas classic. ($29.99)

(93) Santa Silvana Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2015 (Italy). Lively fruity aromas with flavors of peaches, pears and apples with underlying mineral and slate characteristics. Well balanced with good acidity and a crisp, dry, lasting finish. ($16)

(93) McPherson Cellars Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2015 (Texas). One of the more unique wines from this producer. Sourced from 37-year-old Chenin vines in west Texas. All stainless-steel fermentation puts the emphasis on the fruit without the sweetness. Pineapple, melon, crisp acidity and fruit tones dominate the nose. Great mouthfeel, with a hint of minerality. Treat yourself to this great wine with shellfish — especially lobster. ($14.99)

(92) Le Pre Vaujour Sancerre 2016 (France). A combination of drinkability and complexity, this opulent sancerre has great balance and a lengthy finish. It pays tribute to the many, yet increasingly rare, floral and mineral-laden traditional Sancerre wines that define the region. ($24.99)

(92) Abadia de Tortoreos Alvarino (Spain). I don’t always get excited about albarino, but Abadia de Tortoreos is another story. Meyer lemon dominates in a way that will shock you and keep you wanting more. Light, fun drinking happens with this in your glass. This wine from Rias Baixas begs you to drink it outside on a summer day, taking you mentally to the nearest beach. Albarino at its best! ($17.99)

(92) Sea Monster 2014 (California). A blend of riesling, viognier, grenache blanc chardonnay and gewurtz from the Central Coast. If you can get past the gorgeous label, one sip tells you what should be sweet is anything but. Crisp citrus and stone fruit makes this a big winner. ($13.95)

(92) Henry Fessy Les Vergers Macon-Villages 2014 (France). The bright apple and citrus aromas that fill the glass are quite welcoming. The presence of all stainless steel ageing is evident in this extremely bright, clean and elegant wine. Beautifully balanced acidity and minerality make this wine truly a pleasure to drink. A wonderfully fresh but slightly sweet finish is perfect for any occasion. ($16)

(92) Cantine del Taburno Falanghina 2015 (Italy). Classy and delightful, crisp, bright and fruity. Friendly hints of grapefruit and wildflowers and a nice long finish. Great with lighter summer fare or just plain sipping. ($14.99)

(92) Oak Farms Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (California). Sourced from a sustainably grown Lodi vineyard. They utilize the same clone used in New Zealand, but the result is a style that stands on it’s own. Very clean, with crisp acidity. Ruby red grapefruit and pineapple flavors dominate. Beautiful nose that does not have too much of a herbaceous note. Perfect “P” wine for the porch, pool or patio. ($17.99)

(92) Old Cannery Row Monterey 2016 (California). Rich mouth coating chardonnay that starts with vanilla, coconut and pineapple notes, followed by a green apple bright finish. The butter, oak and creamy mouth feel really comes through here and is balanced by decadent tropical fruit flavor. ($19.99)

(92) Coelho Winery Estate Chardonnay Apreciacao 2015 (Oregon). This chardonnay from Willamette Valley is restrained and balanced with notes of lemon grass, ripe apples and a slight hazelnut characteristic to hint at some oak use. The wine shines bright in a sea of excess where it is well made and delicious. ($29.99)

(92) Picollo Ernesto Gavi 2016 (Italy). This 100% Cortese wine starts off with wonderful bright fruit aromas. Most prevalent on first taste are flavors of apricot. Overall great acidity, but a clean refreshing wine to drink all summer long. ($17)

Four Star Wines

(91) Groiss Gruner Veltiner 2015 (Austria). Citrus aromas are the first thing to greet you upon raising the glass. This bright and lemony wine has just the right balance of acidity and minerality. Elegant and light finish make for a nice poolside wine. ($10 per 1-L. bottle)

(91) Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (California). A fun and energetic sauvignon blanc. There is a nice balance of grapefruit and melon fruit, surrounded by a pop of acidity and a fresh finish. A perfect wine for those light fish and citrus fruit dinners. ($14)

(91) Ch de Nages Nimes Blanc V V 2015 (France). Ripe and complex Rhone white that delivers a bold, flavored, and fruit-driven wine with structure that does not depend on oak. The texture of this green apple and floral white is smooth and luscious with richness and power to leave a lasting impression. ($14.99)

(91) Cottesbrook Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016 (New Zealand). The lime and passion fruit-heavy flavors deliver a clean and elegant New Zealand sauvignon blanc with the 10% barrel-aging treatment giving a structural element that complements the fruit. This more serious wine from Marlborough is a refreshing, complex and elegant “step up” from the well-known standards. ($16.99)

(91) Jade Cove Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (New Zealand). The lemon and lime notes dominate this bright and bold sauvignon blanc, with its high acidity and powerful mouth feel rounding everything out. No shortage of power or wow factor, this pure fruit-driven Marlborough wine is a picture perfect example of rich-yet-fresh and approachable wine. ($17.99)

(91) Seven Rings Chardonnay Monterrey 2016 (California). Bold ripe apples and lemon, lime notes with a fair amount of vanilla and spice from the oak barrels to match. The acidity sings on the finish and holds everything together. This full-bodied chardonnay is a handful! ($16.99)

(91) Zeta Albarino 2016 (Spain). Hints of anise and white flowers lead to crisp, fresh pit fruit on the palate. Love the tangy, tense finish here. Screams for seafood or flaky white fish. ($19)

(91) Tesoro Della Regina Pinot Grigio 2016 (Italy). An elegant wine from Valdadige, Veneto, that has beautiful lychee and peach notes on the nose and pallet, with a distinct green apple element that defines the pallet. The acidity and minerality provide an excellent balance to this rich pinot grigio. ($20.99)

(91) Chateau Ksara Blanc 2014 (Lebanon). From the Bekka Valley, this blend of chardonnay, sauvignon and semillon is just round enough to attract big-white-wine drinkers, but fresh and clean enough to keep its refreshing nature. The short stint in oak (four months) rounds it out enough to have it hold up to many dishes. Chateau Ksara Blanc will give you an outlook on Lebanese wines you never expected! ($13.99)

(91) Kupelwieser Pinot Grigio 2016 (Italy). Pays homage to its Austrian roots, this Italian pinot grigio is linier and complex with laser-like mineral elements that are a welcome addition to the crisp and bright green apple and pear notes. A good show of what potential there is in Alto Adige, this wine is quaffable and complex. ($19.99)

(91) Carmen Premier 1850 Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Chile). Crisp and delicious, the 1850 Sauvignon Blanc is vibrant and fresh with aromas of lime and grapefruit. This light-bodied white has lively acidity that pairs perfectly with a variety of seafood dishes, salads or creamy cheeses. ($15)

(91) Twin Island Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (New Zealand). A zesty nose with notes of lemon, green apple and grapefruit. Medium-bodied with pronounced grapefruit flavors and good intensity. A perfect example of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. ($16)

(91) J.Lohr October Night Chardonnay 2015 (California). The degree of complexity for the techniques used to produce this wine is almost overwhelming. The results show, starting with the use of Dijon Clone 809 (Musque) through to the innovative irrigation program to the barrel program. Very distinctive nose, more floral than most. Apple, tangerine, allspice and vanilla notes. From Arroyo Seco, Monterey. ($29.99)

(91) Murdoch James Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (New Zealand). This wine is from Martinsborough on the North Island of New Zealand where the wines are quite distinct from their Marlborough cousins. Pale straw in color with a slight green hue, this sauvignon blanc opens with aromas of lime and stone fruit. On the palate, you will discover flavors of lime, pear, melon and green apple. The finish is dry, crisp and clean with mineral flavors. ($18.99)

(90) Pierre Henri Morel Cotes Du Rhone Villages Laudun Blanc 2016 (France). This Rhone white is bright and smooth, displaying an approachable fruit character of peach and ripe apples but has some citrus to give structure and acid. The smooth texture element to this wine is what shows the terroir and value that can be achieved in the Rhone whites. ($14.99)

(90) Murietta’s Well “The Whip” 2014 (California). This Livermore Valley wine is one of my “go-to” summer favorites. A blend of mostly chardonnay and semillion, blended with sauvignon blanc, orange muscat, muscat canelli and viognier. Flavors of peach, pear and melon abound with just a touch of sweetness leading to a crisp floral finish. A refreshing delight. ($21.99)

(90) Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2015 (Oregon). This riesling offers what is so fantastic with Oregon whites: balance. The soft sweetness along with the bright fruity acidity give this wine remarkable depth in addition to a pleasantly long finish. Beautiful alongside all kinds of fun summer dishes. ($14)

(90) Sanama Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Chile). Sourced from high elevation vineyards in Santa Amalia, the Sanama Reserva is a straight forward sauvignon blanc from Vina los Boldos. Aromas of peach, lemon and fresh-cut limes with crisp flavors and refreshing acidity. A lot to like here for the price! ($12)

(90) Karine Lauverjat Sauvignon Blanc 2016, (France). This reliable Sancerre producer from Loire Valley delivers nicely with this sauvignon blanc from vineyards surrounding Sancerre. Lovely, outgoing citrus aromas lead to a well-balanced palate that features crisp floral notes along with tangy, fresh white grapefruit and minty notes. ($18)

(90) Ironstone Obsession 2014 (California). Made in a lightly sweet style from California’s own Symphony grape. There’s an intriguing bouquet of apricot, nectarine and honey with a nuance of cotton candy. On the palate, you’ll taste those same flavors with a hint of butterscotch. Its sweetness is beautifully balanced by lip-smacking acidity on the finish. It’s a perfect summer sipper or will complement fresh fruit and mild cheese. ($12.99)

(90) Long Meadow Ranch Chardonnay 2015 (California). Definitely cool climate fruit sourced from Mendocino. LMR has made it their mission to employ practices that are good for the planet, employing an integrated organic approach that uses a sustainable methodology. French oak aging (25% new/75% neutral) adds a lighter touch to this rich concentrated wine. Stephane Vivier has crafted a winner for this summer season. Bon Appétit. ($42.99)

(90) Cuvee Louis Cotes de Gascogne Blanc 2015 (France). This interesting blend of colombard and ugni blanc from south of Bordeaux is one of the best summer wines you will find. Fresh citrus flavors abound from this patio pounder. These grapes don’t have to be used in Cognac to taste great anymore. Try it today! ($12.99)

(90) Pine Ridge Chenin-Viognier 2015 (California). Refreshing hints of honeydew, Meyer lemon and pomelo. Not too dry — not too sweet. Perfect with seafood and summer salads. ($12.99)

(90) Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2014 (Spain). It’s cava without the bubbles. Super delicious from beginning to end, with a well-balanced acid/fruit finish. Perfect with light summer cheeses and salads. Plus it’s organic! ($12.95)

(90) Mason Cellars Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (California). Take a break from all the Aussie sauvignons with this refreshing, crisp and easy-sipping gem. The label says it all. ($12.99)

(90) Bodegas Naia Rueda Las Brisas (Spain). 50% verdejo, 30% viura and 20% sauvignon blanc. Versatile every-day white; balanced acidity with a easy mineral finish. Perfect for apps, tapas, grilled veggies and shellfish. ($10.99)

(90) Saladini Pilastri Falerio 2016 (Italy). This white blend (passerina, pecorino, and trebbiano) from Marches has a gorgeous bouquet of white flower and lilacs with a deeper yellow color to match its bolder medium-plus body. The peach and almond notes work very well together and there is good acidity; this wine focuses on the ripe fruit and fuller body. ($11.99)

(90) Eden Ridge Chardonnay Monterrey 2014 (California). Bartlett pears and green apples with vanilla oak notes that add structure to this Monterrey chardonnay. A flavorful yet bright-medium-bodied wine, it has some butter and cream notes that suit it well, while fruit remains the focus. ($11.99)

(90) Wildhaven Pinot Gris Columbia Valley 2014 (Washington). A bold example of pinot gris that is ripe and very much a fruit-forward wine with its rich and value priced. A slight honey note complements the rich peach and nectarine qualities of this Columbia Valley wine to create a round and luscious white that is medium bodied. ($12.99)

(90) Anares Terra Nova Verdejo 2015 (Spain). The aromas on this wine are of soft pear and lime. A nice hint of tart grapefruit midway through plays nicely with a slight spicy tone. Short but mildly acidic finish lends well to many light summer fish dishes. ($11)

(90) Corte Giara Soave 2015 (Italy). This Soave is truly inviting with a slightly golden yellow color and floral aroma. Fresh peach is noticeable followed by slight herbal notes. This wine has a very long and dry finish. ($10)

(90) Treana Chardonnay 2014 (California). Sourcing from some of the best AVAs in the Central Coast helps create this little blockbuster of a chardonnay. 60% stainless steel, complimented with a 40% definitive oak program results in a rich, full-bodied wine. Very balanced acidity, with classic notes of vanilla, caramel and cinnamon. Definitely a wine to pull out for the big weekend meals. ($26.99)

(89) Casas del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (Chile). This lush wine is a bargain! Tropical notes, light citrus and plenty of mineral backbone and acid make it not only a great sipper, but a perfect seafood partner. ($12.95)

(89) Cave de Pomerols HB Picpoul de Pinet 2015 (Languedoc). This is a delicious Picpoul with a pale yellow color with green tints. Delightfully fresh aromas of grapefruit and exotic fruit lead to lime flavors with a medium-bodied juicy clean refreshing finish. This has to be hand-sold as few if anyone will come in to request a Picpoul. However, every bottle you sell will lead to two additional sales. ($11.99)

(89) Playtime Blonde Chardonnay 2015 (California). When looking for that perfect summertime white wine, this chardonnay fits the bill. Soft butter with hints of tropical fruit makes this a truly “playful” Chardonnay for all occasions involving summer. ($12)

(89) McPherson Cellars Vermentino 2015 (Texas). Kim McPherson continues to work his magic with Mediterranean varietals. Richer and more full-bodied than its Italian cousin, this pairs beautifully with lighter summer fare, especially seafood or chicken teriyaki. Clean and crisp with balanced acidity. Citrus, orange, and pear flavors dominate. Perfect wine for lazy summer afternoons in Texas! ($14.99)

(89) Kia Ora Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (New Zealand). Clean with a citrus heavy, passion fruit and characteristic lemon and lime notes. This Marlborough wine is a refreshingly good example of value sauvignon blanc that delivers on its promised richness and drinkability. ($9.99)

(89) Bending Branch Winery Branch Texas White (Texas). The little Texas winery that could . . . and delivers another winner. Delightful blend of muscat blanc, muscat giallo, and roussanne. Dr. Young shows his skill working with blending different-sourced grapes to very tasty perfection. Try this with parmesan cheese. Smooth, easy drinking with subtle peach overtones ($17.99)

(88) Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (California). From Rutherford, Napa. An unusual offering considering the AVA’s reputation for big reds, but what a pleasant surprise. Harvesting was done over two separate time periods. Winemaker Ashley Heisey worked her magic in the blending of the two distinct lots. Great complexity for 100% stainless steel fermentation. Very concentrated fruit, bursting with fresh hints of peaches, pears and lemon grass. ($24.99)

(88) Alexander Valley Vineyards “Gewurz” 2016 (California). And now for something completely different. With fruit sourced from a small organic vineyard, winemaker Kevin Hall of Mendocino crafts a uniquely Californian interpretation of this overlooked varietal. Rich apricot flavors meld with hints of spice and minerality. The sleeper food pairing for this is the classic holiday turkey. ($13.99)

(88) Troublemaker Sauvignon Blanc Blend 1 (California). Light and zesty, from Central Coast, this is the newest addition to the Austin Hope collection. Not your usual sauvignon blanc, especially with the addition of riesling and just a touch of chardonnay. No malolactic fermentation helps preserve the purity of the fruit. Citrus and tropical fruit notes on the nose, with a hint of honeysuckle. Perfect sippin’ wine for the spring/summer season. ($21.99)

(88) Oak Farm Vineyards Albarino 2016 (California). The Lodi region continues to amaze, and this producer is no exception. This Spanish varietal seems to thrive there, and produces a richer and more floral version. Medium bodied, with crisp acidity. Definite mineral notes with beautiful tropical fruit aromas. ($21.99)

Kyle Swartz is managing editor of StateWays Magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @ksswartzz.

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