Enjoy the summer with a chilled white wine

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 18, 2013 

It happens every year. We get a stretch of nice weather in early spring and Northwesterners become giddy with excitement that summer is nearly here. Then we have to deal with June.

But July 5 is just around the corner, and the promise of warmer, sun-drenched days are an affirmation of why we live here. So get ready to chill some white wines and enjoy a glass with friends on the deck, patio or at your next outdoor gathering this summer.

Today I'll give you some recommendations from a couple of local wineries that have you covered with solid white wines. First up are two wines from Mount Baker Vineyards.

Their 2012 Chasselas (about $16) is sourced from the winery's estate vineyards near Everson. The chasselas grape can be a bit nondescript, but this wine really impressed me with its fresh-as-a-meadow-of-clover aromatics, splash of bright acidity and lingering notes of honeycomb, green apple and slightly chalky finish. It's the perfect white wine aperitif.

Also worth a try is the Yakima Valley 2012 Pinot Gris (about $15). There's a trace of spice and orange zest on the nose, and citrusy flavors tempered with a bit of sweetness. If you like your pinot gris made in more of a medium-bodied style, this is the wine for you.

San Juan Vineyards also offers two noteworthy estate-grown white wines.

The tasty 2013 Madeleine Angevine (about $17) displays a faint, straw color, Granny Smith apple flavors, and a trailing note of lemon chiffon with a lip-smacking zing of acidity.

The 2012 Siegerrebe (about $20) is unlike some of the winery's past vintages in that it's not quite as lean, with a bit more plump, viscous fruit on the palate. Spicy lychee aromas and flavors lead off, with generous star fruit and key lime, and an unmistakable kiss of kiwi on the extreme finish.

Finally, be sure to try the San Juan Vineyards 2012 Afterglow (about $17). This is labeled as a pink wine, rather than a white, although it's comprised of almost two-thirds Madeleine Angevine and chardonnay. The remainder of the wine, from which it derives its iridescent copper color, is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot.

Winemaker Chris Primus co-fermented all of the juice in neutral French oak barrels before finishing it in stainless steel. Serve it slightly chilled and you've got an incredible, refreshingly unique wine with green watermelon and slightly tangy strawberry flavors and a touch of minerality. I call it summertime in a glass.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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