Summer is officially here, but please, put down the Rombauer Chardonnay. Our fair state produces a tempting and richly varied cornucopia of wines that are best enjoyed during balmy weather, and if you’re a true fan of the state’s wine industry you owe it to yourself to try a few that are less familiar and, at times, more adventurous.
Here are some trends I have noticed among California’s summer wines:
– The oaky butter bombs of yore have largely disappeared. Chardonnays are now leaner and cleaner, with little to no discernible oak, and their overly bounteous fruitiness is now more likely to be balanced by greater acidity.
– Sauvignon blanc is so much better now. Back in the dark ages, most California wineries made it thin, green, grassy and bland. These days, perhaps emboldened by a better understanding of the grape, winemakers all over the state are making fuller, richer examples of the ancient varietal.
– The rosé revolution is continuing, but it’s being re-interpreted in California. Our version is slightly fruitier and more full-bodied than the austere, bone-dry stuff that comes out of Provence, and we’re less constrained by tradition, so winemakers are turning practically any kind of grape you can imagine into pink wine.
– Our palates are getting more curious. Vermentino, semillon, Rhone blends, crazy Paso concoctions – we’re not a two-grape state anymore when it comes to whites.
Here’s a list of 25 excellent summer wines I have tasted in the last few months. Some of them are easy to find; others could require a visit to the winery. (Hey, I could think of worse ways to spend your vacation.)