As summer comes to a close, Labor Day weekend offers a last chance to relax outdoors before saying goodbye to shorter office hours, gearing up for a new school year and planning for the upcoming holiday season. A few seasonal wines, along with some dishes that work well indoors or out, can help push all your concerns to the back burner, at least for one more long weekend.
The best wines for summer are light, crisp, refreshing and fun to drink. With these white wines, complexity isn't as important as quaffability, affordability and versatility. Many of these bottlings are also lower in alcohol.
Sauvignon Blanc might be the ultimate summer wine—its acidity and flavors match well with everything from shellfish to garden vegetables. Chardonnay has long been a go-to varietal for food and wine lovers; we highlight some light, refreshing, tasty versions here.
Pinot Gris offers fresh, fruity flavors, and the spicy, fragrant notes of Viognier, Riesling and Gewürztraminer pair well with ribs, grilled chicken and pasta salads. For even more dishes to match with these fun summer wines, check out the Wine Spectator Online Recipe Search.
|COEUR D'ALENE Viognier Columbia Valley 2004||89||$18|
|An expansive wine, toasty, spicy and generous with its pineapple and pear flavors, lingering nicely on the creamy finish. Drink now. 441 cases made.
|HEDGES CMS White Columbia Valley 2005||89||$12|
|Smooth, polished and juicy with spicy nectarine, melon and grapefruit aromas and flavors, persisting appealingly on the long finish. Chardonnay, Marsanne and Sauvignon Blanc. Drink now through 2008. 14,200 cases made.
|SAUVIGNON REPUBLIC Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2005||89||$18|
|Intense and concentrated, with vibrant Bartlett pear, citrus and grapefruit, enlivened by crisp acidity and finishing with a juicy aftertaste. Drink now. 10,000 cases made.
|BARNWOOD Sauvignon Blanc Santa Barbara County The Border 2005||88||$14|
|Exotic floral aromas, with rich, complex layers of citrus, fig, melon, quince and herbal flavors that end with a touch of coarseness. Drink now. 3,200 cases made.
|HUSCH Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino 2004||88||$13|
|Intense, with vibrant citrus, orange peel, mango and papaya notes that offer a tropical scent. Rich and full-bodied, this holds a tight focus and finishes with a complex aftertaste. Drink now. 8,269 cases made.
|WASHINGTON HILLS Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2004||88||$9|
|Bright and juicy, a harmonious style with grapefruit and pear aromas and flavors, hinting at tobacco as the finish sails on nicely. Drink now. 3,913 cases made.
|CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Pinot Gris Columbia Valley 2005||87||$13|
|Smooth, soft, dry and appealing for its almond-scented peach and star fruit aromas and flavors, lingering nicely on the fragrant finish. Drink now. 43,000 cases made.
|COLUMBIA CREST Riesling Columbia Valley Two Vines 2005||86||$8|
|Soft and appealing for its pretty pear and apple flavors, finishing off-dry. Drink now. 71,000 cases made.
|ROCK RABBIT Sauvignon Blanc Central Coast 2005||86||$10|
|Richly flavored, with a fleshy midpalate and a hint of sweet pink grapefruit, lemon blossom, fig and sweet pea. Drink now. 35,000 cases made.
|COLUMBIA Gewürztraminer Columbia Valley 2004||85||$9|
|Sweet and simple, with a modest level of spicy, apricot-tinged grapefruit flavor, finishing with some finesse. Drink now. 9,901 cases made.
|PINE & POST Chardonnay Washington 2004||85||$4|
|Smooth, light and appealing for its juicy pear and spice flavors, finishing with a lovely tangerine note. Drink now. 24,000 cases made.
|SNOQUALMIE Riesling Columbia Valley Winemaker's Select 2005||85||$7|
|Frankly sweet, with green apple and lime flavors, finishing a tad sugary but pleasant. Drink now. 23,000 cases made.
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