Chill out with these white wines and rosés

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 6, 2014 

Spring is in full swing and summer begins next month. That means two things, almost with certainty.

One, we're in for our usual on-again, off-again weather during May and June, so everyone slogs around whining about the clouds and drizzle and questions why we live here.

Two, when those warm, sunny days do arrive, everyone throws open the windows, walks about with an ear-to-ear grin and gushes about how lucky we are to live here.

Sounds to me as if it's that time of year to break out the chilled wines.

I know, I know, we shouldn't wait until the first suggestion of warm weather to do this. And I'm as guilty as anyone about limiting my consumption of chilled white wines and rosés until we get into the spring and summer months.

So this week and next week I will give you several recommendations of these wines to consider. They're relatively budget-friendly and great to have on hand for picnic-like outings as well as at home on the patio or deck.

Winemaker Jason Neufeld of Yakima's Gilbert Cellars has been doing an awesome job with his wines the past few years. His current releases are no exception.

He's got a couple of semi-dry whites with bracing acidity that excel with just a bit of chilling. The 2013 Riesling (about $20) displays crisp Fuji apple flavors and a touch of minerality, while the 2013 Gewurztraminer (about $20) offers juicy, stone fruit flavors with gentle orange zest and spicy lychee nut accents.

And Neufeld's Rosé of Mourvedre (about $17) is a rosé lover's dream. Strawberry aromas and flavors lead off, and there's just the slightest suggestion of creaminess on an otherwise crisp, clean finish. Give it a go with prosciutto and a crunchy baguette.

San Juan Vineyards also has several new releases worth a try. The 2013 Pinot Gris (about $14) is made just the way I like it; with a bit of residual sugar and plenty of crisp acidity to balance things out. The wine's bright green melon and zingy lemon/lime flavors are underscored with a trailing whisper of sweetness.

The 2013 Siegerrebe (about $20) doesn't have quite the "pop" I'd hoped for, but it's still a tasty, chilled white wine. Floral notes are prevalent throughout, along with gentle flavors of spiced pear and persimmon.

Also notable is San Juan's 2013 Afterglow (about $17). With a white wine base of chardonnay, pinot gris and riesling, plus three red varietals, this is hardly textbook rosé. But who cares? It's complex and intriguing with candy apple aromas, hints of fig and caramel on the palate and a lean, dry finish. Try it will grilled salmon or simply on its own; it's perfect for sipping.

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

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