July 8 2016 04:31 PM

Unique varietals offer variety in warm weather

As recent rising temperatures have swiftly turned my apartment into a sweltering sauna, I've realized now is the time to break out the white wine. Though I'm partial to Sauvignon Blanc and have grown to appreciate Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, I wanted to look for alternatives to sip and serve this summer.

First, I looked to my own wine rack. I had been sitting on a few bottles sent to me months ago and now found an excuse to chill a 2014 White Knight Viognier. What I love about Viognier in general is its floral essences and big character on the nose—the aromas always jump out of the glass and the wine practically begs to be consumed. This bottle hit all these markers, plus had a rich apricot flavor. I liked this one as an after-dinner treat with its weighty mouth feel and strong taste.

Another white I recently picked up was a 2015 Verdelho crafted by Solterra Winery in Leucadia under its Costa Azul label. I grabbed two bottles of this at the San Diego County Vintners Association's annual wine and food festival, and on a day when I sampled a couple dozen wines, this one clearly stood out with delicious tropical fruit flavors and honeysuckle aromas. I can't say I've imbibed much Verdelho but this crisp local offering will have me looking for more. I pegged it as a perfect wine to go with lighter food fare, such as mild cheeses and gently grilled vegetables.

The finale in my summer wine search was a stop at my favorite neighborhood bottle shop, Bine and Vine. I asked owner Geoi Bachoua if he happened to have any favorites for the warm weather and he immediately introduced me to a 2014 Traminer Aromatico by Villa Vitas from Italy. The name was new to me but I found that it's a related clone of a familiar grape: Gewurtztraminer. There was citrus on the palate along with white peach and a touch of salinity, and prominent orange blossom, lime and soft baby powder scents remained throughout. I enjoyed the delicate flavors of this one as a pre-meal thirst-quencher.

With more hot-weather months ahead, I'm sure these won't be the last of my summer finds, but they all satisfied me so far; plus each rung up at an equally palatable price under $30.

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