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I cannot remember a year where I’ve wished to welcome warmer days so much as I have this year. Part of preparation has been searching out bottles of wine to enjoy that are positively bursting with freshness and fragrance. Here are three styles of wines that I believe fit the bill and are therefore perfect for toasting warming temperatures and longer hours of daylight.
This is an obvious choice and has been a staple for many wine lovers since New Zealand roared onto the world wine scene with its distinctive zesty and in-your-face expression. As winemakers in Marlborough found favour with that pungent and intense model of New Zealand wine, vintners working in other parts of the world have also embraced the style. The New Zealand shelves are still a bounty of exquisite examples, but also be sure to check out selections from Chile, South Africa and Canada, which can also be affordable and flavourful styles of sauvignon blanc. Fans of more subtle white wines should seek out bottles made in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé or Touraine in the Loire Valley. These are often more focused and minerally in nature, as opposed to boisterous and powerful. There can also be some nice surprises waiting to be discovered with wines carrying the simple Loire Valley or vin de France appellation on their label.
Continued thirst for lean and dry examples of pinot grigio from Italy, particularly the refined examples coming from cooler pockets in Alto Adige, Fruili and Trentino, makes bottles easy to come by at liquor stores and restaurants. Their ongoing success continues to overshadow other dry and vibrant regional styles, such as Arneis or Gavi from Piedmont or Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino from Campania, which rank favourably with some of the best whites from around the world. Ongoing research in the vineyard has really unlocked the potential of these often-unsung varieties. Check the shelves of your specialty shops and comb the wine list at restaurants for hidden gems.
The prevailing style of inexpensive white wines from Portugal’s Vinho Verde region is refreshing, light and quaffable. The fresh nature of many of these bright whites is accented by a slight spritz that tickles your tongue. Perfect for a picnic or patio, these unassuming blends of various white wine grapes can be delightful, as the continuing popularity of brands such as Alianca, Aveleda and Casal Garcia can attest. But there’s a growing number of more sophisticated offerings made from a single variety, notably Alvarinho or Loueiro, which offer more complexity and concentration, while still offering mouth-watering character. Look for wines that proudly display the name of a grape variety or are made in the Monçao e Melgaço subregion in the northwestern part of the county for a taste of Vinho Verde’s more distinctive side.